Reionization of the Inhomogeneous Universe

Abstract

A model of the density distribution in the intergalactic medium, motivated by that found in numerical simulations, is used to demonstrate the effect of a clumpy IGM and discrete sources on the reionization of the universe. In an inhomogeneous universe reionization occurs outside-in, starting in voids and gradually penetrating into overdense regions. Reionization should not be sudden but gradual, with a continuous rise of the photon mean free path over a fair fraction of the Hubble time as the emissivity increases. We show that a hydrogen Gunn-Peterson trough should be present at z ' 6 unless the emissivity increases with redshift at z > 4. However, the epoch of overlap of cosmological H II regions could have occurred at a higher redshift if sources of low luminosity reionized the IGM; the Gunn-Peterson trough at z ∼ 6 would then appear because even the most underdense voids have a large enough neutral fraction in ionization equilibrium to be optically thick to Lyα photons. Cosmological H II regions near the epoch of overlap can produce gaps of transmitted flux only if luminous quasars contributed to the reionization, producing large H II regions. Despite the clumpiness of the matter distribution, recombinations do not increase the required emissivity of ionizing photons by a large factor during the reionization of hydrogen because the high density gas is not ionized until a late time. We show that the He II reionization was most likely delayed relative to the hydrogen reionization, but was probably complete by z ∼ 3 (the redshift where observations are available). The reported large optical depth fluctuations of He II are not necessarily due to an incomplete He II reionization, but can arise from a combination of IGM density fluctuations and variations in the intensity of the He II ionizing background due to luminous QSO’s. Subject headings: cosmology: theory — intergalactic medium — large-scale structure of universe — quasars: absorption lines

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@inproceedings{MiraldaEscud1999ReionizationOT, title={Reionization of the Inhomogeneous Universe}, author={Jordi Miralda-Escud{\'e} and Martin G . Haehnelt and Martin J. Rees and Alfred P. Sloan}, year={1999} }