What do observations of the Lyman-alpha fraction tell us about reionization?

Дата и время публикации : 2013-08-28T21:55:07Z

Авторы публикации и институты :
Jessie Taylor
Adam Lidz

Ссылка на журнал-издание: Ссылка на журнал-издание не найдена
Коментарии к cтатье: 12 pages, 7 figures; revisions to match published version; MNRAS, in press
Первичная категория: astro-ph.CO

Все категории : astro-ph.CO

Краткий обзор статьи: An appealing approach for studying the reionization history of the Universe is to measure the redshift evolution of the Lyman-alpha fraction, the percentage of Lyman-break selected galaxies that emit appreciably in the Ly-alpha line. This fraction is expected to fall-off towards high redshift as the intergalactic medium becomes significantly neutral, and the galaxies’ Ly-alpha emission is progressively attenuated. Intriguingly, early measurements with this technique suggest a strong drop in the Ly-alpha fraction near z ~ 7. Previous work concluded that this requires a surprisingly neutral intergalactic medium — with neutral hydrogen filling more than 50 % of the volume of the Universe — at this redshift. We model the evolving Ly-alpha fraction using cosmological simulations of the reionization process. Before reionization completes, the simulated Ly-alpha fraction has large spatial fluctuations owing to the inhomogeneity of reionization. Since existing measurements of the Ly-alpha fraction span relatively small regions on the sky, and sample these regions only sparsely, they may by chance probe mostly galaxies with above average Ly-alpha attenuation. We find that this sample variance is not exceedingly large for existing surveys, but that it does somewhat mitigate the required neutral fraction at z ~ 7. Quantitatively, in a fiducial model calibrated to match measurements after reionization, we find that current z = 7 observations require a volume-averaged neutral fraction of x_HI > 0.05 at 95 % confidence level. Hence, we find that the z ~ 7 Ly-alpha fraction measurements do likely probe the Universe before reionization completes but that they do not require a very large neutral fraction.

Category: Physics