March 2, 2000 CfA Colloquium

Title: The First Galaxies: Clues from Element Abundances

Speaker: Max Pettini

Abstract: It has recently become possible to measure directly the abundances of several chemical elements in a variety of environments at redshifts up to z = 5. In this review I summarise the latest observations of Lyman break galaxies, damped Lyman alpha systems and the Lyman alpha forest with a view to uncovering any clues which these data may offer to the first episodes of star formation. The picture which is emerging is one where the universe at z = 3 already included many of the components of today's galaxies--even at these early times we see evidence for Populations I and II stars, while the `smoking gun' for Population III objects may be hidden in the chemical composition of the lowest density regions of the IGM, yet to be deciphered.

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