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Title: Quantitative Constraints on the Reionization History from the IGM Damping Wing Signature in Two Quasars at z > 7

Abstract

During reionization, neutral hydrogen in the intergalactic medium (IGM) imprints a damping wing absorption feature on the spectrum of high-redshift quasars. A detection of this signature provides compelling evidence for a significantly neutral universe, and enables measurements of the hydrogen neutral fraction x HI(z) at that epoch. Obtaining reliable quantitative constraints from this technique, however, is challenging due to stochasticity induced by the patchy inside-out topology of reionization, degeneracies with quasar lifetime, and the unknown unabsorbed quasar spectrum close to rest-frame Lyα. Here, we combine a large-volume semi-numerical simulation of reionization topology with 1D radiative transfer through high-resolution hydrodynamical simulations of the high-redshift universe to construct models of quasar transmission spectra during reionization. Our state-of-the-art approach captures the distribution of damping wing strengths in biased quasar halos that should have reionized earlier, as well as the erosion of neutral gas in the quasar environment caused by its own ionizing radiation. Combining this detailed model with our new technique for predicting the quasar continuum and its associated uncertainty, we introduce a Bayesian statistical method to jointly constrain the neutral fraction of the universe and the quasar lifetime from individual quasar spectra. We apply this methodology to the spectra of the twomore » quasars with the highest redshifts known, ULAS J1120+0641 and ULAS J1342+0928, and measure volume-averaged neutral fractions {xHI}(Z = 7.09) = 0.48 $$+0.26\atop{-0.26}$$and {xHI}(Z = 7.54) = 0.60 $$+0.20\atop{-0.23}$$ (posterior medians and 68% credible intervals) when marginalized over quasar lifetimes of 103 ≤ t q ≤ 108 yr.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [6]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [7]; ORCiD logo [8]
  1. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA (United States). Dept. of Physics
  2. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA (United States). Dept. of Physics; Max Planck Inst. für Astronomie, Heidelberg (Germany)
  3. Observatories of the Carnegie Inst. for Science, Pasadena, CA (United States)
  4. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  5. Max Planck Inst. für Astronomie, Heidelberg (Germany)
  6. Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (United States). Steward Observatory
  7. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA (United States). Dept. of Physics; Peking Univ., Beijing (China). Dept. of Astronomy, School of Physics, Kavli Inst. for Astronomy and Astrophysics
  8. Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (United States). Steward Observatory; Peking Univ., Beijing (China). Dept. of Astronomy, School of Physics, Kavli Inst. for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP)
OSTI Identifier:
1493262
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 864; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; cosmology: observations; cosmology: theory; dark ages, reionization, first stars; intergalactic medium; quasars: absorption lines

Citation Formats

Davies, Frederick B., Hennawi, Joseph F., Bañados, Eduardo, Lukić, Zarija, Decarli, Roberto, Fan, Xiaohui, Farina, Emanuele P., Mazzucchelli, Chiara, Rix, Hans-Walter, Venemans, Bram P., Walter, Fabian, Wang, Feige, and Yang, Jinyi. Quantitative Constraints on the Reionization History from the IGM Damping Wing Signature in Two Quasars at z > 7. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aad6dc.
Davies, Frederick B., Hennawi, Joseph F., Bañados, Eduardo, Lukić, Zarija, Decarli, Roberto, Fan, Xiaohui, Farina, Emanuele P., Mazzucchelli, Chiara, Rix, Hans-Walter, Venemans, Bram P., Walter, Fabian, Wang, Feige, & Yang, Jinyi. Quantitative Constraints on the Reionization History from the IGM Damping Wing Signature in Two Quasars at z > 7. United States. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/aad6dc
Davies, Frederick B., Hennawi, Joseph F., Bañados, Eduardo, Lukić, Zarija, Decarli, Roberto, Fan, Xiaohui, Farina, Emanuele P., Mazzucchelli, Chiara, Rix, Hans-Walter, Venemans, Bram P., Walter, Fabian, Wang, Feige, and Yang, Jinyi. 2018. "Quantitative Constraints on the Reionization History from the IGM Damping Wing Signature in Two Quasars at z > 7". United States. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/aad6dc. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1493262.
@article{osti_1493262,
title = {Quantitative Constraints on the Reionization History from the IGM Damping Wing Signature in Two Quasars at z > 7},
author = {Davies, Frederick B. and Hennawi, Joseph F. and Bañados, Eduardo and Lukić, Zarija and Decarli, Roberto and Fan, Xiaohui and Farina, Emanuele P. and Mazzucchelli, Chiara and Rix, Hans-Walter and Venemans, Bram P. and Walter, Fabian and Wang, Feige and Yang, Jinyi},
abstractNote = {During reionization, neutral hydrogen in the intergalactic medium (IGM) imprints a damping wing absorption feature on the spectrum of high-redshift quasars. A detection of this signature provides compelling evidence for a significantly neutral universe, and enables measurements of the hydrogen neutral fraction x HI(z) at that epoch. Obtaining reliable quantitative constraints from this technique, however, is challenging due to stochasticity induced by the patchy inside-out topology of reionization, degeneracies with quasar lifetime, and the unknown unabsorbed quasar spectrum close to rest-frame Lyα. Here, we combine a large-volume semi-numerical simulation of reionization topology with 1D radiative transfer through high-resolution hydrodynamical simulations of the high-redshift universe to construct models of quasar transmission spectra during reionization. Our state-of-the-art approach captures the distribution of damping wing strengths in biased quasar halos that should have reionized earlier, as well as the erosion of neutral gas in the quasar environment caused by its own ionizing radiation. Combining this detailed model with our new technique for predicting the quasar continuum and its associated uncertainty, we introduce a Bayesian statistical method to jointly constrain the neutral fraction of the universe and the quasar lifetime from individual quasar spectra. We apply this methodology to the spectra of the two quasars with the highest redshifts known, ULAS J1120+0641 and ULAS J1342+0928, and measure volume-averaged neutral fractions {xHI}(Z = 7.09) = 0.48 $+0.26\atop{-0.26}$and {xHI}(Z = 7.54) = 0.60 $+0.20\atop{-0.23}$ (posterior medians and 68% credible intervals) when marginalized over quasar lifetimes of 103 ≤ t q ≤ 108 yr.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/aad6dc},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1493262}, journal = {The Astrophysical Journal (Online)},
issn = {1538-4357},
number = 2,
volume = 864,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {9}
}

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Cited by: 33 works
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