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  1. Abstract

    Diffuse radio recombination lines (RRLs) in the Galaxy are possible foregrounds for redshifted 21 cm experiments. We use EDGES drift scans centered at −26.°7 decl. to characterize diffuse RRLs across the southern sky. We find that RRLs averaged over the large antenna beam (72° × 110°) reach minimum amplitudes of R.A. = 2–6 hr. In this region, the Cαabsorption amplitude is 33 ± 11 mK (1σ) averaged over 50–87 MHz (27 ≳z≳ 15 for the 21 cm line) and increases strongly as frequency decreases. Cβand Hαlines are consistent with no detection with amplitudes of 13 ± 14 and 12 ± 10 mK (1σ), respectively. At 108–124.5 MHz (z≈ 11) in the same region, we find no evidence for carbon or hydrogen lines at the noise level of 3.4 mK (1σ). Conservatively assuming that observed lines come broadly from the diffuse interstellar medium, as opposed to a few compact regions, these amplitudes provide upper limits on the intrinsic diffuse lines. The observations support expectations that Galactic RRLs can be neglected as significant foregrounds for a large region of sky until redshifted 21 cm experiments, particularly those targeting cosmic dawn, move beyond the detection phase. We fit models of the spectral dependence of the lines averaged over the large beam of EDGES, which may contain multiple line sources with possible line blending, and find that including degrees of freedom for expected smooth, frequency-dependent deviations from local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) is preferred over simple LTE assumptions for Cαand Hαlines. For Cαwe estimate departure coefficients 0.79 <bnβn< 4.5 along the inner Galactic plane and 0 <bnβn< 2.3 away from the inner Galactic plane.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    Accurately accounting for spectral structure in spectrometer data induced by instrumental chromaticity on scales relevant for detection of the 21-cm signal is among the most significant challenges in global 21-cm signal analysis. In the publicly available Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature low-band data set, this complicating structure is suppressed using beam-factor-based chromaticity correction (BFCC), which works by dividing the data by a sky-map-weighted model of the spectral structure of the instrument beam. Several analyses of these data have employed models that start with the assumption that this correction is complete. However, while BFCC mitigates the impact of instrumental chromaticity on the data, given realistic assumptions regarding the spectral structure of the foregrounds, the correction is only partial. This complicates the interpretation of fits to the data with intrinsic sky models (models that assume no instrumental contribution to the spectral structure of the data). In this paper, we derive a BFCC data model from an analytical treatment of BFCC and demonstrate using simulated observations that, in contrast to using an intrinsic sky model for the data, the BFCC data model enables unbiased recovery of a simulated global 21-cm signal from beam-factor chromaticity-corrected data in the limit that the data are corrected with an error-free beam-factor model.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT

    Measurements of the one-point probability distribution function and higher-order moments (variance, skewness, and kurtosis) of the high-redshift 21-cm fluctuations are among the most direct statistical probes of the non-Gaussian nature of structure formation and evolution during re-ionization. However, contamination from astrophysical foregrounds and instrument systematics pose significant challenges in measuring these statistics in real observations. In this work, we use forward modelling to investigate the feasibility of measuring 21-cm one-point statistics through a foreground avoidance strategy. Leveraging the characteristic wedge-shape of the foregrounds in k-space, we apply a wedge-cut filtre that removes the foreground contaminated modes from a mock data set based on the Hydrogen Epoch of Re-ionization Array (HERA) instrument, and measure the one-point statistics from the image-space representation of the remaining non-contaminated modes. We experiment with varying degrees of wedge-cutting over different frequency bandwidths and find that the centre of the band is the least susceptible to bias from wedge-cutting. Based on this finding, we introduce a rolling filtre method that allows reconstruction of an optimal wedge-cut 21-cm intensity map over the full bandwidth using outputs from wedge-cutting over multiple sub-bands. We perform Monte Carlo simulations to show that HERA should be able to measure the rise in skewness and kurtosis near the end of re-ionization with the rolling wedge-cut method if foreground leakage from the Fourier transform window function can be controlled.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    Preparing for a first detection of the 21-cm signal during reionization by large-scale interferometer experiments requires rigorous testing of the data analysis and reduction pipelines. Validating that these do not erroneously add/remove features mimicking the signal (e.g. from side lobes or large-scale power leakage) requires simulations extending beyond the primary field of view. However, the Murchison Wide Field Array (MWA) with a field of view of ∼252 deg2 would require simulations spanning several Gpcs, which are currently infeasible. To address this, we developed a simplified version of the seminumerical reionization simulation code 21cmfast, sacrificing some physical accuracy (linear structure formation) in favour of extremely large volumes. We then constructed a 7.5 Gpc comoving volume specifically tailored to the binned spectral resolution of the MWA (∼1.17 cMpc), required for validating the pipeline used in the 2020 MWA 21-cm power spectrum (PS) upper limits. With this large-volume simulation, we then explored: (i) whether smaller volume simulations are biased by missing large-scale modes, (ii) non-Gaussianity in the cosmic variance uncertainty, (iii) biases in the recovered 21-cm PS following foreground wedge avoidance, and (iv) the impact of tiling smaller simulations to achieve large volumes. We found (i) no biases from missing large-scale power, (ii) significant contribution from non-Gaussianity, as expected, (iii) a 10–20 per cent overestimate of the 21-cm PS following wedge mode excision, and (iv) tiling smaller simulations underestimates the large-scale power and cosmic variance.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    Cross-correlating 21cm and Lyα intensity maps of the Epoch of Reionization promises to be a powerful tool for exploring the properties of the first galaxies. Next-generation intensity mapping experiments such as the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) and SPHEREx will individually probe reionization through the power spectra of the 21cm and Lyα lines respectively, but will be limited by bright foregrounds and instrumental systematics. Cross-correlating these measurements could reduce systematics, potentially tightening constraints on the inferred astrophysical parameters. In this study, we present forecasts of cross-correlation taking into account the effects of exact uv-sampling and foreground filtering to estimate the feasibility of HERAxSPHEREx making a detection of the 21cm-Lyα cross-power spectrum. We also project the sensitivity of a cross-power spectrum between HERA and the proposed next-generation Cosmic Dawn Intensity Mapper. By isolating the sources of uncertainty, we explore the impacts of experimental limitations such as foreground filtering and Lyα thermal noise uncertainty have on making a detection of the cross-power spectrum. We then implement this strategy in a simulation of the cross-power spectrum and observational error to identify redshifts where fiducial 21cmFAST models predict the highest signal-to-noise detection (z ∼ 8). We conclude that detection of the SPHEREx-HERA cross-correlation will require an optimistic level of 21cm foreground filtering, as well as deeper thermal noise integrations due to a lack of overlapping sensitive modes but for CDIM with its larger range of scales and lower noise forecast detection levels, may be possible even with stricter 21cm foreground filtering.

     
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  6. ABSTRACT

    We develop a Bayesian model that jointly constrains receiver calibration, foregrounds, and cosmic 21 cm signal for the EDGES global 21 cm experiment. This model simultaneously describes calibration data taken in the lab along with sky-data taken with the EDGES low-band antenna. We apply our model to the same data (both sky and calibration) used to report evidence for the first star formation in 2018. We find that receiver calibration does not contribute a significant uncertainty to the inferred cosmic signal ($\lt 1{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$), though our joint model is able to more robustly estimate the cosmic signal for foreground models that are otherwise too inflexible to describe the sky data. We identify the presence of a significant systematic in the calibration data, which is largely avoided in our analysis, but must be examined more closely in future work. Our likelihood provides a foundation for future analyses in which other instrumental systematics, such as beam corrections and reflection parameters, may be added in a modular manner.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Low-frequency radio observatories are reaching unprecedented levels of sensitivity in an effort to detect the 21 cm signal from the Cosmic Dawn. High precision is needed because the expected signal is overwhelmed by foreground contamination, largely from so-called diffuse emission—a nonlocalized glow comprising Galactic synchrotron emission and radio galaxies. The impact of this diffuse emission on observations may be better understood through detailed simulations, which evaluate the Radio Interferometry Measurement Equation (RIME) for a given instrument and sky model. Evaluating the RIME involves carrying out an integral over the full sky, which is naturally discretized for point sources but must be approximated for diffuse emission. The choice of integration scheme can introduce errors that must be understood and isolated from the instrumental effects under study. In this paper, we present several analytically defined patterns of unpolarized diffuse sky emission for which the RIME integral is manageable, yielding closed-form or series visibility functions. We demonstrate the usefulness of these RIME solutions for validation by comparing them to simulated data and show that the remaining differences behave as expected with varied sky resolution and baseline orientation and length.

     
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  8. ABSTRACT

    The formation of the first galaxies during cosmic dawn and reionization (at redshifts z = 5–30), triggered the last major phase transition of our universe, as hydrogen evolved from cold and neutral to hot and ionized. The 21-cm line of neutral hydrogen will soon allow us to map these cosmic milestones and study the galaxies that drove them. To aid in interpreting these observations, we upgrade the publicly available code 21cmFAST. We introduce a new, flexible parametrization of the additive feedback from: an inhomogeneous, H2-dissociating (Lyman–Werner; LW) background; and dark matter – baryon relative velocities; which recovers results from recent, small-scale hydrodynamical simulations with both effects. We perform a large, ‘best-guess’ simulation as the 2021 installment of the Evolution of 21-cm Structure (EOS) project. This improves the previous release with a galaxy model that reproduces the observed UV luminosity functions (UVLFs), and by including a population of molecular-cooling galaxies. The resulting 21-cm global signal and power spectrum are significantly weaker, primarily due to a more rapid evolution of the star formation rate density required to match the UVLFs. Nevertheless, we forecast high signal-to-noise detections for both HERA and the SKA. We demonstrate how the stellar-to-halo mass relation of the unseen, first galaxies can be inferred from the 21-cm evolution. Finally, we show that the spatial modulation of X-ray heating due to relative velocities provides a unique acoustic signature that is detectable at z ≈ 10–15 in our fiducial model. Ours are the first public simulations with joint inhomogeneous LW and relative-velocity feedback across the entire cosmic dawn and reionization, and we make them available at this link https://scholar.harvard.edu/julianbmunoz/eos-21.

     
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