Where are the missing cosmic metals?

Andrea Ferrara, Evan Scannapieco, Jacqueline Bergeron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The majority of the heavy elements produced by stars 2 billion years after the big bang (redshift z ≈ 3) are presently undetected at those epochs. We propose a solution to this cosmic "missing metals" problem in which such elements are stored in gaseous halos produced by supernova explosions around star-forming galaxies. By using data from the ESO VLT Large Program, we find that (1) only 5%-9% of the produced metals reside in the cold phase, the rest being found in the hot (T = 105.8-106. 4 K) phase, and (2) 1%-6% (3%-30%) of the observed C IV (O VI) is in the hot phase. We conclude that at z ≳ 3, more than 90% of the metals produced during the star formation history can be placed in a hot phase of the intergalactic medium (IGM), without violating any observational constraint. The observed galaxy mass-metallicity relation and the IGM and intracluster medium metallicity evolution are also naturally explained by this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume634
Issue number1 II
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2005
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

intergalactic media
metallicity
metal
metals
galaxies
stars
heavy elements
European Southern Observatory
supernovae
explosions
star formation
explosion
halos
time measurement
histories
history
cold
programme

Keywords

  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Intergalactic medium
  • Stars: early-type
  • Supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Where are the missing cosmic metals? / Ferrara, Andrea; Scannapieco, Evan; Bergeron, Jacqueline.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 634, No. 1 II, 20.11.2005.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ferrara, Andrea ; Scannapieco, Evan ; Bergeron, Jacqueline. / Where are the missing cosmic metals?. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2005 ; Vol. 634, No. 1 II.
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