Journal Article

The earliest galaxies seen in 21 cm line absorption

Yidong Xu, Andrea Ferrara and Xuelei Chen

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 410, issue 3, pages 2025-2042
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The earliest galaxies seen in 21 cm line absorption

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We investigate the 21 cm absorption lines produced by non-linear structures during the early stage of reionization, i.e. the starless minihaloes and the dwarf galaxies. After a detailed modelling of their properties, with particular attention to the coupling physics, we determine their 21 cm absorption line profiles. The infalling gas velocity around minihaloes/dwarf galaxies strongly affects the line shape and, with the low spin temperatures outside the virial radii of the systems, gives rise to horn-like line profiles. The optical depth of a dwarf galaxy is reduced for lines of sight penetrating through its H ii region and, especially, a large H ii region created by a dwarf galaxy with higher stellar mass and/or a top-heavy initial mass function results in an optical depth trough rather than an absorption line. We compute synthetic spectra of 21 cm forest for both high-redshift quasars and radio afterglows of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Even with the planned Square Kilometre Array (SKA), radio afterglows of most if not all GRBs would still be too dim to be the background sources for high-resolution (1 kHz) observations, but absorption lines can be easily detected towards a high-z quasar. Broadband observation against GRB afterglows can also be used to reveal the evolving 21 cm signal from both minihaloes and dwarf galaxies if there was no X-ray background or it was extremely weak, but it becomes difficult if an early X-ray background existed. Hence, the 21 cm absorption could be a powerful probe of the presence/intensity of the X-ray background and the thermal history of the early Universe.

Keywords: line: profiles; galaxies: dwarf; galaxies: high-redshift; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  15903 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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