To be published in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ARAA), vol 52.
arxiv.org/abs/1403.0007

For a PDF version of the article, click here.

COSMIC STAR FORMATION HISTORY

Piero Madau

Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064

Mark Dickinson

National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, Arizona 85719


Abstract: Over the past two decades, an avalanche of data from multiwavelength imaging and spectroscopic surveys has revolutionized our view of galaxy formation and evolution. Here we review the range of complementary techniques and theoretical tools that allow astronomers to map the cosmic history of star formation, heavy element production, and reionization of the Universe from the cosmic "dark ages" to the present epoch. A consistent picture is emerging, whereby the star-formation rate density peaked approximately 3.5 Gyr after the Big Bang, at z ≈ 1.9, and declined exponentially at later times, with an e-folding timescale of 3.9 Gyr. Half of the stellar mass observed today was formed before a redshift z = 1.3. About 25% formed before the peak of the cosmic star-formation rate density, and another 25% formed after z = 0.7. Less than ~ 1% of today's stars formed during the epoch of reionization. Under the assumption of a universal initial mass function, the global stellar mass density inferred at any epoch matches reasonably well the time integral of all the preceding star-formation activity. The comoving rates of star formation and central black hole accretion follow a similar rise and fall, offering evidence for co-evolution of black holes and their host galaxies. The rise of the mean metallicity of the Universe to about 0.001 solar by z = 6, one Gyr after the Big Bang, appears to have been accompanied by the production of fewer than ten hydrogen Lyman-continuum photons per baryon, a rather tight budget for cosmological reionization.


Key words : cosmology, galaxy formation, evolution, star formation, stellar populations


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

THE EQUATIONS OF COSMIC CHEMICAL EVOLUTION

MEASURING MASS FROM LIGHT
Star-Formation Rates
"Weighing" Stellar Mass

TRACING THE GALAXY EMISSION HISTORY WITH LARGE SURVEYS
UV Surveys
Infrared Surveys
Emission Line Surveys
Radio Surveys
Stellar Mass Density Surveys
The State of the Art, and What's Wrong with It

FROM OBSERVATIONS TO GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Star-Formation Density
Core-Collapse Supernova Rate
Stellar Mass Density
Fossil Cosmology
The Global Specific Star Formation Rate
Cosmic Metallicity
Black Hole Accretion History
First Light and Cosmic Reionization

CONCLUDING REMARKS

REFERENCES

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