The evolution of Population III and extremely metal-poor binary stars

Sung-Han Tsai, Ke-Jung Chen, Daniel Whalen, Po-Sheng Ou, Tyrone E. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerical simulations have now shown that Population III (Pop III) stars can form in binaries and small clusters and that these stars can be in close proximity to each other. If so, they could be subject to binary interactions such as mass exchange that could profoundly alter their evolution, ionizing UV and Lyman-Werner (LW) photon emission and explosion yields, with important consequences for early cosmological reionization and chemical enrichment. Here we investigate the evolution of Pop III and extremely metal-poor binary stars with the MESA code. We find that interactions ranging from stable mass transfer to common envelope evolution can occur in these binaries for a wide range of mass ratios and initial separations. Mass transfer can nearly double UV photon yields in some of these binaries with respect to their individual stars by extending the life of the companion star, which in turn can enhance early cosmological reionization but also suppress the formation of later generations of primordial stars. Binary interactions can also have large effects on the nucleosynthetic yields of the stars by promoting or removing them into or out of mass ranges for specific SN types. We provide fits to total photon yields for the binaries in our study for use in cosmological simulations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 24 May 2023


  • binary stars
  • stellar evolution
  • reionization
  • early universe
  • Population III stars
  • primordal galaxies

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