Connecting the First Galaxies with Ultrafaint Dwarfs in the Local Group: Chemical Signatures of Population III Stars

Myoungwon Jeon, Gurtina Besla, Volker Bromm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


We investigate the star formation history (SFH) and chemical evolution of isolated analogs of Local Group (LG) ultrafaint dwarf galaxies (UFDs; stellar mass range of 102 M < M∗; < 105 M) and gas-rich, low-mass dwarfs (Leo P analogs; stellar mass range of 105 M < M < 106 M). We perform a suite of cosmological hydrodynamic zoom-in simulations to follow their evolution from the era of the first generation of stars down to z = 0. We confirm that reionization, combined with supernova (SN) feedback, is primarily responsible for the truncated star formation in UFDs. Specifically, halos with a virial mass of Mvir ≲ 2 × 109 M form ≳90% of stars prior to reionization. Our work further demonstrates the importance of Population III stars, with their intrinsically high [C Fe] yields and the associated external metal enrichment, in producing low-metallicity stars ([Fe/H] ≲ -4) and carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars. We find that UFDs are composite systems, assembled from multiple progenitor halos, some of which hosted only Population II stars formed in environments externally enriched by SNe in neighboring halos, naturally producing extremely low metallicity Population II stars. We illustrate how the simulated chemical enrichment may be used to constrain the SFHs of true observed UFDs. We find that Leo P analogs can form in halos with Mvir ∼ 4 × 10 M 9 (z = 0). Such systems are less affected by reionization and continue to form stars until z = 0, causing higher-metallicity tails. Finally, we predict the existence of extremely low metallicity stars in LG UFD galaxies that preserve the pure chemical signatures of Population III nucleosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number85
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2017


  • cosmology: theory
  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: highredshift
  • hydrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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