Fr.: photon de Lyman-Werner
An → ultraviolet photon with an energy between 11.2 and 13.6 eV, corresponding to the energy range in which the Lyman and Werner absorption bands of → molecular hydrogen (H2) are found (→ Lyman band, → Werner band). The first generation of stars produces a background of Lyman-Werner radiation which can → photodissociate molecular hydrogen, the key → cooling agent in metal free gas below 104 K. In doing so, the Lyman-Werner radiation field delays the collapse of gaseous clouds, and thus star formation. After more massive → dark matter clouds are assembled, atomic line cooling becomes effective and H2 can begin to shield itself from Lyman-Werner radiation.