Bubble mapping with the Square Kilometer Array - I. Detecting galaxies with Euclid, JWST, WFIRST and ELT within ionized bubbles in the intergalactic medium at z>6

Erik Zackrisson, Suman Majumdar, Rajesh Mondal, Christian Binggeli, Martin Sahlén, Tirthankar Roy Choudhury, Benedetta Ciardi, Abhirup Datta, Kanan K. Datta, Pratika Dayal, Andrea Ferrara, Sambit K. Giri, Umberto Maio, Sangeeta Malhotra, Garrelt Mellema, Andrei Mesinger, James Rhoads, Claes-Erik Rydberg, Ikkoh Shimizu

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The Square Kilometer Array is expected to provide the first tomographic observations of the neutral intergalactic medium at redshifts z>6 and pinpoint the locations of individual ionized bubbles during the early stages of cosmic reionization. In scenarios where star-forming galaxies provide most of the ionizing photons required for cosmic reionization, one expects the first ionized bubbles to be centered on overdensities of such galaxies. Here, we model the properties of galaxy populations within isolated, ionized bubbles that SKA-1 should be able to resolve at z=7-10, and explore the prospects for galaxy counts within such structures with various upcoming near-infrared telescopes. We find that, for the bubbles that are within reach of SKA-1 tomography, the bubble volume is closely tied to the number of ionizing photons that have escaped from the galaxies within. In the case of galaxy-dominated reionization, galaxies are expected to turn up above the spectroscopic detection threshold of JWST and ELT in even the smallest resolvable bubbles at redshifts z=10 or below. The prospects of detecting galaxies within these structures in purely photometric surveys with Euclid, WFIRST, JWST or ELT are also discussed. While spectroscopy is preferable towards the end of reionization to provide a robust sample of bubble members, multiband imaging may be a competitive option for bubbles at z~10, due to the very small number of line-of-sight interlopers expected at similar redshifts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1-May-2019


  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
  • Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics

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