The Initial mass function of the first stars inferred from extremely metal-poor stars

Miho N. Ishigaki, Nozomu Tominaga, Chiaki Kobayashi, Ken'ichi Nomoto

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We compare the elemental abundance patterns of ~200 extremely metal-poor (EMP; [Fe/H] < −3) stars to the supernova yields of metal-free stars, in order to obtain insights into the characteristic masses of the first (Population III or Pop III) stars in the universe. The supernova yields are prepared with nucleosynthesis calculations of metal-free stars with various initial masses (M = 13, 15, 25, 40 and 100 M ⊙) and explosion energies (E 51 = E/1051[erg] = 0.5–60), to include low-energy, normal-energy, and high-energy explosions. We adopt the mixing-fallback model, to take into account possible asymmetry in the supernova explosions, and the yields that best fit the observed abundance patterns of the EMP stars are searched by varying the model parameters. We find that the abundance patterns of the EMP stars are predominantly best-fitted by the supernova yields with initial masses M < 40 M ⊙, and that more than than half of the stars are best-fitted by the M = 25 M ⊙ hypernova (E 51 = 10) models. The results also indicate that the majority of the primordial supernovae have ejected 10−2–10−1 M ⊙ of 56Ni, leaving behind a compact remnant (either a neutron star or a black hole), with a mass in the range of ~1.5–5 M ⊙. These results suggest that the masses of the first stars responsible for the first metal enrichment are predominantly <40 M ⊙. This implies that the higher-mass first stars were either less abundant, directly collapsed into a black hole without ejecting heavy elements, or a supernova explosion of a higher-mass first star inhibits the formation of the next generation of low-mass stars at [Fe/H] < −3.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2018


  • stars: abundances
  • stars: Population III
  • supernovae: general


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