Volume 634, February 2020
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||25 February 2020|
Contribution from stars stripped in binaries to cosmic reionization of hydrogen and helium
The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, 813 Santa Barbara St., Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
2 Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3 Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4 GRAPPA, GRavitation and AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5 Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
6 Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
7 School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
8 Department of Physics & Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
9 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
Accepted: 14 November 2019
Massive stars are often found in binary systems, and it has been argued that binary products boost the ionizing radiation of stellar populations. Accurate predictions for binary products are needed to understand and quantify their contribution to cosmic reionization. We investigate the contribution of stars stripped in binaries because (1) they are, arguably, the best-understood products of binary evolution, (2) we recently produced the first radiative transfer calculations for the atmospheres of these stripped stars that predict their ionizing spectra, and (3) they are very promising sources because they boost the ionizing emission of stellar populations at late times. This allows stellar feedback to clear the surroundings such that a higher fraction of their photons can escape and ionize the intergalactic medium. Combining our detailed predictions for the ionizing spectra with a simple cosmic reionization model, we estimate that stripped stars contributed tens of percent of the photons that caused cosmic reionization of hydrogen, depending on the assumed escape fractions. More importantly, stripped stars harden the ionizing emission. We estimate that the spectral index for the ionizing part of the spectrum can increase to −1 compared to ≲ − 2 for single stars. At high redshift, stripped stars and massive single stars combined dominate the He II-ionizing emission, but we expect that active galactic nuclei drive cosmic helium reionization. Further observational consequences we expect are (1) high ionization states for the intergalactic gas surrounding stellar systems, such as C IV and Si IV, and (2) additional heating of the intergalactic medium of up to a few thousand Kelvin. Quantifying these warrants the inclusion of accurate models for stripped stars and other binary products in full cosmological simulations.
Key words: binaries : close / dark ages / reionization / first stars / galaxies: stellar content / ultraviolet: stars
© ESO 2020
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