Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 437, 1141-1154 (2014/January-2)
The effect of fluctuations on the helium-ionizing background.
DAVIES F.B. and FURLANETTO S.R.
Abstract (from CDS):
Interpretation of Heii Lyα absorption spectra after the epoch of Heii reionization requires knowledge of the Heii ionizing background. While past work has modelled the evolution of the average background, the standard cosmological radiative transfer technique assumes a uniform radiation field despite the discrete nature of the (rare) bright quasars that dominate the background. We implement a cosmological radiative transfer model that includes the most recent constraints on the ionizing spectra and luminosity function of quasars and the distribution of intergalactic medium absorbers. We also estimate, for the first time, the effects of fluctuations on the evolving continuum opacity in two ways: by incorporating the complete distribution of ionizing background amplitudes into the standard approach, and by explicitly treating the quasars as discrete - but isolated - sources. Our model results in a Heii ionization rate that evolves steeply with redshift, increasing by a factor of ∼ 2 from z = 3.0 to z = 2.5. This causes rapid evolution in the mean Heii Lyα optical depth - as recently observed - without appealing to the reionization of Heii. The observed behaviour could instead result from rapid evolution in the mean-free path of ionizing photons as the helium in higher Hi column density absorbers becomes fully ionized.