First Light from the Fossil Record: A New Synthesis
Jason Tumlinson (Yale)
The first stars and galaxies lie at one of the most compelling frontiers of 21st century astrophysics.
Beginning in the next decade, JWST and its contemporaries will seek out these objects in the
high redshift Universe. I will show how the rapidly growing field of "Galactic Archeology" can yield
discoveries about the first stars and galaxies that powerfully complement direct observation at high
redshift with data on kinematics and chemical abundances in the oldest components of the Milky
Way. Using a new theoretical model for the hierarchical formation and stochastic chemical evolution
of the Galaxy, I will show how newly discovered chemical abundance signatures constrain the mass
function (IMF) of the first stars and their immediate descendants during the epoch of reionization.
Since this theoretical model has been constructed to explicitly incorporate data from the low- and
high-redshift Universe, the derived IMFs can be tested directly with JWST and its contemporaries
in space and on the ground. With much more Galactic Archeology data coming in the five years
leading up to JWST, we can look forward to a rich and detailed picture of the epoch of first light
brought into sharp focus by this new synthesis of data.