Cross-correlation of the cosmic 21-cm signal and Lyman α emitters during reionization

Emanuele Sobacchi, Andrei Mesinger, Bradley Greig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Interferometry of the cosmic 21-cm signal is set to revolutionize our understanding of the Epoch of Reionization (EoR), eventually providing 3D maps of the early Universe. Initial detections however will be low signal to noise, limited by systematics. To confirm a putative 21-cm detection, and check the accuracy of 21-cm data analysis pipelines, it would be very useful to cross-correlate against a genuine cosmological signal. The most promising cosmological signals are wide-field maps of Lyman α emitting galaxies (LAEs), expected from the Subaru Hyper-Suprime Cam ultradeep field (UDF). Here we present estimates of the correlation between LAE maps at z ~ 7 and the 21-cm signal observed by both the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) and the planned Square Kilometre Array Phase 1 (SKA1). We adopt a systematic approach, varying both: (i) the prescription of assigning LAEs to host haloes; and (ii) the large-scale structure of neutral and ionized regions (i.e. EoR morphology). We find that the LAE-21cm cross-correlation is insensitive to (i), thus making it a robust probe of the EoR. A 1000 h observation with LOFAR would be sufficient to discriminate at ≳ 1σ a fully ionized Universe from one with a mean neutral fraction of xHI ≈ 0.50, using the LAE-21 cm cross-correlation function on scales of R ≈ 3-10 Mpc. Unlike LOFAR, whose detection of the LAE-21 cm cross-correlation is limited by noise, SKA1 is mostly limited by ignorance of the EoR morphology. However, the planned 100 h wide-field SKA1-Low survey will be sufficient to discriminate an ionized Universe from one with xHI ≈ 0.25, even with maximally pessimistic assumptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2741-2750
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Dark ages, reionization, first stars
  • Early Universe
  • Galaxies: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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