Joining bits and pieces of reionization history

Research paper by Dhiraj Kumar Hazra, Daniela Paoletti, Fabio Finelli, George F. Smoot

Indexed on: 10 Jun '19Published on: 02 Apr '19Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics


Cosmic Microwave Background temperature and polarization anisotropies from Planck have estimated lower value of the optical depth to reionization ($\tau$) compared to WMAP. A significant period in the reionization history, therefore falls within $6<{\rm redshift} (z)< 10$ where overlap with the galaxies detected with Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) program and independent estimation of neutral hydrogen in the inter galactic medium by Lyman-$\alpha$ observations becomes important. This overlap calls for an analysis of cosmic reionization which allows a direct combination of CMB and astrophysical measurements. For the first time we reconstruct reionization histories where the photo-ionization and recombination rates are assumed to be free-form using the Planck CMB (temperature and polarization anisotropies and lensing) and a selection of astrophysical data allowing underlying cosmological parameters to vary. This conservative approach removes model bias, explores degeneracies between reionization and other cosmological parameters in a framework that allows sharp to extended histories of reionization. We find that CMB and astrophysical datasets cannot agree if reionization process is sharp. In this joint estimation, we report a derived conservative constraint $\tau=0.063^{+0.005\,+0.02}_{-0.013\,-0.017}$ (68.3\% and 95\% C.L.). We find the duration of reionization, redshift interval between 10\% ionization and nearly complete ionization, to be $2.4<\Delta^{\rm reion}_{z}<11.9$ at 95\% C.L. We do not obtain any evidences for double reionization; and within allowed possibilities we find monotonic histories are preferred over other scenarios when CMB and astrophysical data are combined.