Reionization and cosmic dawn astrophysics from the Square Kilometre Array: impact of observing strategies

Greig, B., Mesinger, A. & Koopmans, L. V. E., Jan-2020, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 491, 1, p. 1398-1407 10 p.

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Interferometry of the cosmic 21-cm signal is set to revolutionize our understanding of the epoch of reionization (EoR) and the cosmic dawn (CD). The culmination of ongoing efforts will be the upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will provide tomography of the 21-cm signal from the first billion years of our Universe. Using a galaxy formation model informed by high-z luminosity functions, here we forecast the accuracy with which the first phase of SKA-low (SKA1-low) can constrain the properties of the unseen galaxies driving the astrophysics of the EoR and CD. We consider three observing strategies: (i) deep (1000 h on a single field); (ii) medium-deep (100 h on 10 independent fields); and (iii) shallow (10 h on 100 independent fields). Using the 21-cm power spectrum as a summary statistic, and conservatively only using the 21-cm signal above the foreground wedge, we predict that all three observing strategies should recover astrophysical parameters to a fractional precision of similar to 0.1-10 per cent. The reionization history is recovered to an uncertainty of Delta z less than or similar to 0.1 (1 sigma) for the bulk of its duration. The medium-deep strategy, balancing thermal noise against cosmic variance, results in the tightest constraints, slightly outperforming the deep strategy. The shallow observational strategy performs theworst, with up to an similar to 10-60 per cent increase in the recovered uncertainty. We note, however, that non-Gaussian summary statistics, tomography, as well as unbiased foreground removal would likely favour the deep strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1407
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2020


  • galaxies: high-redshift, intergalactic medium, dark ages, reionization, first stars, diffuse radiation, early Universe, cosmology: theory, COSMOLOGICAL PARAMETER-ESTIMATION, HIGH-REDSHIFT, 21-CM SIGNAL, RADIATIVE FEEDBACK, GALAXY FORMATION, SIZE STATISTICS, NON-GAUSSIANITY, EPOCH, ABSORPTION, SIMULATIONS

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