Intensity mapping across cosmic times with the Lyα line

Anthony R. Pullen, Olivier Doré, Jamie Bock

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We present a quantitative model of Lyα emission throughout cosmic history and determine the prospects for intensity mapping spatial fluctuations in the Lyα signal. Since (1) our model assumes at z > 6 the minimum star formation required to sustain reionization and (2) is based at z < 6 on a luminosity function (LF) extrapolated from the few observed bright Lyα emitters, this should be considered a lower limit. Mapping the line emission allows probes of reionization, star formation, and large-scale structure (LSS) as a function of redshift. While Lyα emission during reionization has been studied, we also predict the postreionization signal to test predictions of the intensity and motivate future intensity mapping probes of reionization. We include emission from massive dark matter halos and the intergalactic medium (IGM) in our model. We find agreement with current, measured LFs of Lyα emitters at z < 8. However, diffuse IGM emission, not associated with Lyα emitters, dominates the intensity up to z ∼ 10. While our model is applicable for deep-optical or near-infrared observers like the James Webb Space Telescope, only intensity mapping will detect the diffuse IGM emission. We also construct a three-dimensional power spectrum model of the Lyα emission. Finally, we consider the prospects of an intensity mapper for measuring Lyα fluctuations while identifying interloper contamination for removal. Our results suggest that while the reionization signal is challenging, Lyα fluctuations can be an interesting new probe of LSS at late times when used in conjunction with other lines, e.g., Hα, to monitor low-redshift foreground confusion.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number111
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 10 2014


    • Cosmology: Observations
    • Diffuse radiation
    • Intergalactic medium
    • Large-scale structure of universe

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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