Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 2007
The formation of the first generations of stars at redshifts z ≥ 15 − 20 signaled the transition from the simple initial state of the universe to one of ever increasing complexity. We here review recent progress in understanding the assembly process of the first galaxies, starting with cosmological initial conditions and modelling the detailed physics of star formation. In particular, we study the role of HD cooling in ionized primordial gas, the impact of UV radiation produced by the first stars, and the propagation of the supernova blast waves triggered at the end of their brief lives. We conclude by discussing how the chemical abundance patterns observed in extremely low-metallicity stars allow us to probe the properties of the first stars.