Peering into the dark (ages) with low-frequency space interferometers: Using the 21-cm signal of neutral hydrogen from the infant universe to probe fundamental (Astro)physics

Léon V.E. Koopmans*, Rennan Barkana, Mark Bentum, Gianni Bernardi, Albert Jan Boonstra, Judd Bowman, Jack Burns, Xuelei Chen, L. Gurvits, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn are largely unexplored windows on the infant Universe (z ~ 200–10). Observations of the redshifted 21-cm line of neutral hydrogen can provide valuable new insight into fundamental physics and astrophysics during these eras that no other probe can provide, and drives the design of many future ground-based instruments such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA). We review progress in the field of high-redshift 21-cm Cosmology, in particular focussing on what questions can be addressed by probing the Dark Ages at z > 30. We conclude that only a space- or lunar-based radio telescope, shielded from the Earth’s radio-frequency interference (RFI) signals and its ionosphere, enable the 21-cm signal from the Dark Ages to be detected. We suggest a generic mission design concept, CoDEX, that will enable this in the coming decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1641-1676
Number of pages36
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • 21-cm cosmology
  • Cosmic dawn
  • Dark ages
  • Epoch of reionization
  • Space or lunar-based radio telescopes

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