SIMBAD references

2011MNRAS.415.3237M - Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 415, 3237-3246 (2011/August-3)

The first (nearly) model-independent constraint on the neutral hydrogen fraction at z ∼ 5-6.


Abstract (from CDS):

Cosmic reionization is expected to be complex, extended and very inhomogeneous. Existing constraints at z ∼ 6 on the volume-averaged neutral hydrogen fraction, {img}, are highly model-dependent and controversial. Constraints at z < 6, suggesting that the Universe is highly ionized, are also model-dependent, but more fundamentally are invalid in the context of inhomogeneous reionization. As such, it has recently been pointed out that there is no conclusive evidence that reionization has completed by z ∼ 5–6, a fact that has important ramifications on the interpretation of high-redshift observations and theoretical models. We present the first direct upper limits on {img} at z ∼ 5–6 using the simple and robust statistic of the covering fraction of dark pixels in the Lyα/β forests of high-redshift quasars. With a sample of 13 Keck Echellette Spectrograph and Imager spectra we constrain {img} at 5.0 ≲ z ≲ 5.5, rising to {img} at z ∼ 6.1. We also find tentative evidence for a break in the redshift evolution of the dark covering fraction at z ∼ 5.5. A subsample of two deep spectra provides a more stringent constraint of {img}, when combined with conservative estimates of cosmic variance. This upper limit is comparable to existing results at z ∼ 6 but is more robust. The results presented here do not rely on assumptions about quasar continua, intergalactic medium density, the morphology of H II regions or ionizing background fields, and thus are a good starting point for future interpretation of high-redshift observations.

Abstract Copyright: 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society2011 RAS

Journal keyword(s): galaxies: high-redshift - quasars: absorption lines - cosmology: observations - dark ages, reionization, first stars - diffuse radiation - early Universe

Simbad objects: 13

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