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2002MNRAS.332..601S - Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 332, 601-616 (2002/May-3)

The epoch of helium reionization.


Abstract (from CDS):

We study the reionization of Heii by quasars using a numerical approach that combines 3D radiative transfer calculations with cosmological hydrodynamical simulations. Sources producing the ionizing radiation are selected according to an empirical quasar luminosity function, and are assigned luminosities according to their intrinsic masses. The free parameters associated with this procedure are (1) a universal source lifetime, (2) a minimum mass cut-off, (3) a minimum luminosity cut-off, (4) a solid angle specifying the extent to which radiation is beamed, and (5) a tail-end spectral index for the radiative energy distribution of the sources. We present models in which these parameters are varied, and examine characteristics of the resultant reionization process that distinguish the various cases. In addition, we extract artificial spectra from the simulations and quantify statistical properties of the spectral features in each model.

We find that the most important factor affecting the evolution of Heii reionization is the cumulative number of ionizing photons that are produced by the sources. Comparisons between Heii opacities measured observationally and those obtained by our analysis reveal that the available ranges in plausible values for the parameters provide enough leeway to provide a satisfactory match. However, one property common to all our calculations is that the epoch of Heii reionization must have occurred at a redshift in the range 3≲z ≲4. If so, future observational programmes will be able to directly trace the details of the ionization history of helium and to probe the low-density phase of the intergalactic medium during this phase of the evolution of the Universe.

Abstract Copyright: 2002 Blackwell Science Ltd

Journal keyword(s): radiative transfer - intergalactic medium - quasars: general - diffuse radiation

Simbad objects: 4

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