Probing the physics and history of cosmic reionization with the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect
1 INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma via Frascati 33, 00040 Monteporzio, Italy
2 School of Physics, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, 2050 - Johannesburg, South Africa
Received: 2 September 2014
Accepted: 18 July 2016
Context. The evolution of the Universe during the dark ages (DA) and the epoch of reonization (EoR) marks an important transition in the history of the Universe but it is not yet fully understood.
Aims. We study here an alternative technique to probe the DA and EoR that makes use of the Comptonization of the CMB spectrum modified by physical effects occurring during this epoch related to the emergence of the 21-cm radiation background. Inverse Compton scattering of 21-cm photon background by thermal and non-thermal electrons residing in the atmospheres of cosmic structures like galaxy clusters, radiogalaxy lobes and galaxy halos, produces a specific form of Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect (SZE) that we refer to as SZE-21 cm.
Methods. We derived the SZE-21 cm in a general relativistic approach, which is required to describe the correct spectral features of this astrophysical effect. We calculated the spectral features of the thermal and non-thermal SZE-21 cm in galaxy clusters and in radiogalaxy lobes, and their dependence on the history of physical mechanisms occurring during the DA and EoR. We studied how the spectral shape of the SZE-21 cm can be used to establish the global features in the mean 21-cm spectrum generated during and prior to the EoR, and how it depends on the properties of the (thermal and non-thermal) plasma in cosmic structures.
Results. We found that the thermal and non-thermal SZE-21 cm have peculiar spectral shapes that allow to investigate the physics and history of the EoR and DA. Its spectrum depends on the gas temperature (for the thermal SZE-21 cm) and on the electrons minimum momentum (for the non-thermal SZE-21 cm). The global SZE-21 cm signal can be detected (in ~ 1000 h) by SKA1-low in the frequency range ν ≳ 75−90 MHz, for clusters in the temperature range 5 to 20 keV, and the difference between the SZE-21 cm and the standard SZE can be detected by SKA1 or SKA2 at frequencies depending on the background model and the cluster temperature.
Conclusions. We have shown that the detection of the SZE-21 cm can provide unique information on the DA and EoR, and on the cosmic structures that produce the scattering; the frequencies at which the SZE-21 cm shows its main spectral features will indicate the epoch at which the physical processes related to the cosmological 21-cm signal occurred and shed light on the cosmic history during the DA and EoR by using local, well-known cosmic structures like galaxy clusters and radio galaxies.
Key words: dark ages, reionization, first stars / galaxies: clusters: general / cosmic background radiation
© ESO, 2016