Volume 650, June 2021
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||14 June 2021|
Prospects for observing the low-density cosmic web in Lyman-α emission
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
2 Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
3 Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, 19 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
4 Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
5 Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha Road, Mumbai 400005, India
6 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, 146 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
Accepted: 16 March 2021
Mapping the intergalactic medium (IGM) in Lyman-α emission would yield unprecedented tomographic information on the large-scale distribution of baryons and potentially provide new constraints on the UV background and various feedback processes relevant to galaxy formation. In this work, we use a cosmological hydrodynamical simulation to examine the Lyman-α emission of the IGM resulting from collisional excitations and recombinations in the presence of a UV background. We focus on gas in large-scale-structure filaments in which Lyman-α radiative transfer effects are expected to be moderate. At low density the emission is primarily due to fluorescent re-emission of the ionising UV background as a result of recombinations, while collisional excitations dominate at higher densities. We discuss prospects of current and future observational facilities to detect this emission and find that the emission of filaments of the cosmic web are typically dominated by the halos and galaxies embedded in these filaments, rather than by the lower-density filament gas outside halos. Detecting filament gas directly would require a very long exposure with a MUSE-like instrument on the ELT. Our most robust predictions that act as lower limits indicate this would be slightly less challenging at lower redshifts (z ≲ 4). We also find that there is a large amount of variance between fields in our mock observations. High-redshift protoclusters appear to be the most promising environment to observe the filamentary IGM in Lyman-α emission.
Key words: intergalactic medium / large-scale structure of Universe / diffuse radiation / cosmology: theory / methods: numerical
© ESO 2021
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