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Published November 11, 2002 | Accepted Version + Published
Journal Article Open

The contribution of the first stars to the cosmic infrared background


We calculate the contribution to the cosmic infrared background from very massive metal-free stars at high redshift. We explore two plausible star formation models and two limiting cases for the reprocessing of the ionizing stellar emission. We find that Population III stars may contribute significantly to the cosmic near-infrared background if the following conditions are met. (i) The first stars were massive, with M≳ 100 M⊙. (ii) Molecular hydrogen can cool baryons in low-mass haloes. (iii) Population III star formation is ongoing, and not shut off through negative feedback effects. (iv) Virialized haloes form stars at ∼40 per cent efficiency up to the redshift of reionization, z∼ 7. (v) The escape fraction of the ionizing radiation into the intergalactic medium is small. (vi) Nearly all of the stars end up in massive black holes without contributing to the metal enrichment of the Universe.

Additional Information

© 2002 RAS. Received: 19 June 2002. Accepted: 10 July 2002. Published: 11 November 2002. VB thanks the TAPIR group at Caltech for its hospitality during the completion of this work. We thank L. Cambrésy, W. T. Reach, Y. Lithwick, A. Benson, J. Silk, A. Ferrara, M. Rees and P. Natarajan for stimulating discussions. We thank the anonymous referee for comments that improved the presentation of this paper. MRS acknowledges the support of NASA GSRP grant NGT5-50339. This work was supported in part at Caltech by NSF AST-0096023, NASA NAG5-8506 and DoE DE-FG03-92-ER40701 and DE-FG03-88-ER40397.

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