Probing patchy reionization through τ-21 cm correlation statistics

P. Daniel Meerburg, Cora Dvorkin, David N. Spergel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We consider the cross-correlation between free electrons and neutral hydrogen during the epoch of reionization (EoR). The free electrons are traced by the optical depth to reionization ? ,while the neutral hydrogen can be observed through 21 cm photon emission. As expected, this correlation is sensitive to the detailed physics of reionization. Foremost, if reionization occurs through the merger of relatively large halos hosting an ionizing source, the free electrons and neutral hydrogen are anticorrelated for most of the reionization history. A positive contribution to the correlation can occur when the halos that can form an ionizing source are small. A measurement of this sign change in the cross-correlation could help disentangle the bias and the ionization history.We estimate the signal-tonoise ratio of the cross-correlation using the estimator for inhomogeneous reionization τℓm proposed by Dvorkin and Smith. We find that with upcoming radio interferometers and cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments, the cross-correlation is measurable going up to multipoles ℓ ∼ 1000. We also derive parameter constraints and conclude that, despite the foregrounds, the cross-correlation provides a complementary measurement of the EoR parameters to the 21 cm and CMB polarization autocorrelations expected to be observed in the coming decade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • cosmic background radiation
  • cosmological parameters
  • cosmology: theory
  • dark ages, reionization, first stars


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