Stellar black holes at the dawn of the Universe: cosmological implications

Dr. Felix Mirabel

Abstract

The so called "dark ages" of the universe began about 400.000 years after the Big Bang as matter cooled down and space became filled with neutral hydrogen for hundreds of millions years. How the Universe was heated and reionized during the first billion years after the Big Bang is a question of topical interest in cosmology. I will show that current theoretical models on the formation and collapse of primordial stars suggest that a large fraction of massive stars should have imploded, forming high-mass black hole X-ray binaries. Then, I will review the recent observations of compact stellar remnants in the near and distant universe that support this theoretical expectation, showing that the thermal (UV and soft X-rays) and non-thermal (hard X-rays, winds and jets) emission from a large population of stellar black holes in high mass binaries heated the intergalactic medium over large volumes of space, complementing the reionization by their stellar progenitors. Feedback from accreting stellar black holes at that epoch would have prevented the formation of the large quantities of low mass dwarf galaxies that are predicted by the cold dark matter model of the universe. A large population of black hole binaries may be important for future observations of gravitational waves as well as for the existing and future atomic hydrogen radio surveys of HI in the early universe.

About the talk

Stellar black holes at the dawn of the Universe: cosmological implications
Dr. Felix Mirabel
CEA, Service d'Astrophysique, France
Thursday November 4, 2010
en     en

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