The transmission of Lyman α (Ly α) in the spectra of distant quasars depends on the density, temperature, and ionization state of the intergalactic medium. Therefore, high-redshift (z > 5) Ly α forests could be invaluable in studying the late stages of the epoch of reionization (EoR), as well as properties of the sources that drive it. Indeed, high-quality quasar spectra have now firmly established the existence of large-scale opacity fluctuations at z > 5, whose physical origins are still debated. Here, we introduce a Bayesian framework capable of constraining the EoR and galaxy properties by forward-modelling the high-z Ly α forest. Using priors from galaxy and cosmic microwave background observations, we demonstrate that the final overlap stages of the EoR (when >95 per cent of the volume was ionized) should occur at z < 5.6, in order to reproduce the large-scale opacity fluctuations seen in forest spectra. However, it is the combination of patchy reionization and the inhomogeneous ultraviolet background that produces the longest Gunn-Peterson troughs. Ly α forest observations tighten existing constraints on the characteristic ionizing escape fraction of galaxies, with the combined observations suggesting fesc ≈ 7+4-3} per cent, and disfavouring a strong evolution with the galaxy's halo (or stellar) mass.

Reionization and galaxy inference from the high-redshift Ly α forest

Qin Y.;Mesinger A.;Viel M.
2021-01-01

Abstract

The transmission of Lyman α (Ly α) in the spectra of distant quasars depends on the density, temperature, and ionization state of the intergalactic medium. Therefore, high-redshift (z > 5) Ly α forests could be invaluable in studying the late stages of the epoch of reionization (EoR), as well as properties of the sources that drive it. Indeed, high-quality quasar spectra have now firmly established the existence of large-scale opacity fluctuations at z > 5, whose physical origins are still debated. Here, we introduce a Bayesian framework capable of constraining the EoR and galaxy properties by forward-modelling the high-z Ly α forest. Using priors from galaxy and cosmic microwave background observations, we demonstrate that the final overlap stages of the EoR (when >95 per cent of the volume was ionized) should occur at z < 5.6, in order to reproduce the large-scale opacity fluctuations seen in forest spectra. However, it is the combination of patchy reionization and the inhomogeneous ultraviolet background that produces the longest Gunn-Peterson troughs. Ly α forest observations tighten existing constraints on the characteristic ionizing escape fraction of galaxies, with the combined observations suggesting fesc ≈ 7+4-3} per cent, and disfavouring a strong evolution with the galaxy's halo (or stellar) mass.
Settore FIS/05 - Astronomia e Astrofisica
Cosmology: theory; Dark ages, reionization, first stars; Diffuse radiation; Early Universe; Galaxies: high-redshift; Intergalactic medium
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11384/110443
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