Journal Article

Modification of the 21-cm power spectrum by X-rays during the epoch of reionization

L. Warszawski, P. M. Geil and J. S. B. Wyithe

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 2, pages 1106-1118
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Modification of the 21-cm power spectrum by X-rays during the epoch of reionization

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We incorporate a contribution to reionization from X-rays within analytic and seminumerical simulations of the 21-cm signal arising from neutral hydrogen during the epoch of reionization. The relatively long X-ray mean free path (MFP) means that ionizations due to X-rays are not subject to the same density bias as UV ionizations, resulting in a substantive modification to the statistics of the 21-cm signal. We explore the impact that X-ray ionizations have on the power spectrum (PS) of 21-cm fluctuations by varying both the average X-ray MFP and the fractional contribution of X-rays to reionization. In general, prior to the epoch when the intergalactic medium (IGM) is dominated by ionized regions (H ii regions), X-ray-induced ionization enhances fluctuations on spatial scales smaller than the X-ray MFP, provided that X-ray heating does not strongly suppress galaxy formation. Conversely, at later times when H ii regions dominate, small-scale fluctuations in the 21-cm signal are suppressed by X-ray ionization. Our modelling also shows that the modification of the 21-cm signal due to the presence of X-rays is sensitive to the relative scales of the X-ray MFP and the characteristic size of H ii regions. We therefore find that X-rays imprint an epoch and scale-dependent signature on the 21-cm PS, whose prominence depends on fractional X-ray contribution. The degree of X-ray heating of the IGM also determines the extent to which these features can be discerned. We further show that the presence of X-rays smoothes out the shoulder-like signature of H ii regions in the 21-cm PS. For example, a 10 per cent contribution to reionization from X-rays translates to a 20–30 per cent modulation in the 21-cm PS across the scale of H ii regions. We show that the Murchison Widefield Array will have sufficient sensitivity to detect this modification of the PS, so long as the X-ray photon MFP falls within the range of scales over which the array is most sensitive (∼0.1 Mpc−1). In cases in which this MFP takes a much smaller value, an array with larger collecting area would be required. As a result, an X-ray contribution to reionization has the potential to substantially complicate analysis of the 21-cm PS. On the other hand, a combination of precision measurements and modelling of the 21-cm PS promises to provide an avenue for investigating the role and contribution of X-rays during reionization.

Keywords: galaxies: high redshift; intergalactic medium

Journal Article.  9237 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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