Pop III with JWST


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Contact: F.X.Timmes
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Can The James Webb Space Telescope Observe Individual Population III Stars Or Their Black Hole Accretion Disks Directly Through Cluster Caustic Transits? (2017)

In this paper by Windhost et al we summarize panchromatic Extragalactic Background Light data to place upper limits on the near-infrared surface brightness from Population III stars and possible accretion disks around their stellar mass black holes in the epoch of First Light, broadly taken at z $\simeq$ 7 - 17.

Tighter constraints on their sky-signal come from theory and recent near-infrared power-spectrum studies. We outline the physical properties of zero metallicity Population III stars from MESA stellar evolution models through helium-depletion, and of SBH accretion disks at z $\lesssim$ 7, assuming that second-generation non-zero metallicity stars form at higher multiplicity, so that their SBH accretion disks may be fed by Roche-lobe overflow from lower mass companions. We use these near-infrared SB constraints to calculate the number of caustic transits that the James Webb Space Telescope may observe for both Population III stars and their SBH accretion disks behind lensing clusters.

Typical caustic magnifications can be $\mu$ $\simeq$ 10$^4$ - 10$^5$, with rise times $\lesssim$ a few hours and decline times of $\sim$ a year for cluster transverse velocities $v_T$ $\lesssim$ 1000 km/s. Microlensing by intracluster medium objects can modify transit magnifications, but lengthen visibility times. Depending on SBH masses, accretion disk radii and feeding timescales, SBH accretion disks may outnumber Population III star caustic transits by $\lesssim$ 5 - 10$\times$. We present a JWST observing program to observe such events to AB $\lesssim$ 29 mag. JWST may need to monitor 10 - 100 lensing clusters during its lifetime to detect Population III objects through caustic transits directly.

panchromatic backgrounds

HR diagram

cluster caustics and magnification map
redshift space distribution