The inhomogeneous reionization of the local intergalactic medium by metal-poor globular clusters

Griffen, B F, Drinkwater, M J, Iliev, Ilian T, Thomas, P A and Mellema, Garrelt (2013) The inhomogeneous reionization of the local intergalactic medium by metal-poor globular clusters. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 431 (4). pp. 3087-3102. ISSN 0035-8711

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We present detailed radiative transfer simulations of the reionization of the Milky Way by metal-poor globular clusters. We identify potential metal-poor globular cluster candidates within the Aquarius simulation using dark matter halo velocity dispersions. We calculate the local ionization fields via a photon-conserving, three dimensional non-equilibrium chemistry code. The key feature of the model is that globular cluster formation is suppressed if the local gas is ionized. We assume that at these early times, the ionization field is dominated by the flux from metal-poor globular clusters.
Our spatial treatment of the ionization field leads to drastically different numbers and spatial distributions when compared to models where globular cluster formation is simply truncated at early redshifts (z ∼ 13). The spatial distributions are more extended and more globular clusters are produced. We find that additional sources of ionization are required at later epochs (z ∼ 10) to ionize the remaining gas and recover radial distributions statistically consistent with that of the Milky Way metal-poor globular clusters.
We investigate a range of plausible ionization efficiencies to determine the effect photon-rich and photon-poor models have on present-day globular cluster properties. If globular clusters do indeed form within high-redshift dark matter haloes, they produce enough photons to ionize 98 and 90 per cent local (i.e. 23 h−3 Mpc3 centred on the host galaxy) volume and mass by redshift 10, respectively. In our photon-poorest model, this contribution drops to 60 and 50 per cent. Our model therefore implies that globular clusters are important contributors to the reionization process on local scales at high-redshift until more photon-rich sources dominate the photon budget at later times. The surviving clusters in all models have a narrow average age range (mean = 13.34 Gyr, σ = 0.04 Gyr) consistent with current age estimates of the Milky Way metal-poor globular clusters. We also test a simple dynamical destruction model and estimate that ∼60 per cent of all metal-poor globular clusters formed at high redshift have since been destroyed via tidal interactions with the host galaxy.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Depositing User: Peter Thomas
Date Deposited: 23 May 2013 12:13
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 08:25

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