Simulating the 21 cm signal from reionization including non-linear ionizations and inhomogeneous recombinations

Sultan Hassan, Romeel Davé, Kristian Finlator, Mario G. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explore the impact of incorporating physically motivated ionization and recombination rates on the history and topology of cosmic reionization and the resulting 21 cm power spectrum, by incorporating inputs from small-volume hydrodynamic simulations into our semi-numerical code, SIMFAST21, that evolves reionization on large scales. We employ radiative hydrodynamic simulations to parametrize the ionization rate Rion and recombination rate Rrec as functions of halo mass, overdensity and redshift. We find that Rion scales superlinearly with halo mass (Rion ∝ Mh 1.41), in contrast to previous assumptions. Implementing these scalings into SIMFAST21, we tune our one free parameter, the escape fraction fesc, to simultaneously reproduce recent observations of the Thomson optical depth, ionizing emissivity and volumeaveraged neutral fraction by the end of reionization. This yields fesc = 4-2 +7 per cent averaged over our 0.375 h-1 Mpc cells, independent of halo mass or redshift, increasing to 6 per cent if we also constrain to match the observed z = 7 star formation rate function. Introducing superlinear Rion increases the duration of reionization and boosts small-scale 21 cm power by two to three times at intermediate phases of reionization, while inhomogeneous recombinations reduce ionized bubble sizes and suppress large-scale 21 cm power by two to three times. Gas clumping on sub-cell scales has a minimal effect on the 21 cm power. Superlinear Rion also significantly increases the median halo mass scale for ionizing photon output to ~1010M, making the majority of reionizing sources more accessible to next-generation facilities. These results highlight the importance of accurately treating ionizing sources and recombinations for modelling reionization and its 21 cm power spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1550-1567
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Dark ages
  • Early Universe
  • First stars
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Reionization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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