Studying the sources of cosmic reionization with 21-cm fluctuations

Rennan Barkana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We explore the ability of measurements of the 21-cm power spectrum during reionization to enable the simultaneous reconstruction of the reionization history and the properties of the ionizing sources. For various sets of simulated 21-cm observations, we perform maximum likelihood fits in order to constrain the reionization and galaxy formation histories. We employ a flexible six-parameter model that parametrizes the uncertainties in the properties of high-redshift galaxies. The computational speed needed is attained through the use of an analytical model that is in reasonable agreement with numerical simulations of reionization. We find that one-year observations, with the Murchison Widefield Array, should measure the cosmic ionized fraction to ∼1 per cent accuracy at the very end of reionization, and a few per cent accuracy around the mid-point of reionization. The mean halo mass of the ionizing sources should be measurable to 10 per cent accuracy when reionization is 2/3 of the way through, and to 20 per cent accuracy throughout the central stage of reionization, if this mass is anywhere in the range 1/3 to 100 billion solar masses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1463
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift


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