Featured Image: Making the First Stars in Spinning Clouds

grid showing the simulation results for the particle number density under different values of rotation rate

Simulation results showing the number density of gas particles for 16 simulations with different values of β, which increases as the rotation rate of the cloud increases. Notice that the scale of the images changes as β increases. Click for high-resolution version. [Raghuvanshi and Dutta 2023]

When the first stars in the universe formed, ending millions of years of darkness, what masses did they have? This question is more than a matter of idle curiosity: if any of the first stars formed with masses less than 0.8 solar mass, they would still exist today. In a recent research article, Shubham Raghuvanshi and Jayanta Dutta (both from the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in India) performed hydrodynamic modeling to test how the rotation of a primordial gas cloud affects the resulting masses of the first stars. The images above and to the right show the results of their simulations after 50 solar masses of gas had been collected by the newly forming protostars. Ultimately, Raghuvanshi and Dutta found that in the fastest-spinning clouds, 10–12% of young stars might be ejected before they can grow past 0.8 solar masses. This suggests that if early gas clouds spun fast enough, some of the most ancient stars might still exist in modern galaxies, waiting to be found. To learn more about how the team modeled the making of the first stars, be sure to check out the full article linked below!


“Simulating the Collapse of Rotating Primordial Gas Clouds to Study the Possibility of the Survival of Population III Protostars,” Shubham P. Raghuvanshi and Jayanta Dutta 2023 ApJ 944 76. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/acac30