The redshifted 21-cm line of hydrogen holds great potential for the study of cosmology, as it can probe otherwise unobservable cosmic epochs. In particular, measurements of the 21-cm power spectrum during cosmic dawn—the era when the first stars were formed—will provide us with a wealth of information about the astrophysics of stellar formation, as well as the origin of fluctuations intn our Universe. In addition to their usually considered density fluctuations, dark matter and baryons possess large relative velocities with respect to each other, due to the baryon acoustic oscillations suffered by the latter, which suppress the formation of stars during cosmic dawn, leaving an imprint on 21-cm observables during this era. Here we present 21cmvuc(fast), a version of the publicly available code 21cmvuc(fast) modified to account for this effect. Previous work has shown that the inclusion of relative velocities produces an acoustic modulation on the large-scale 21-cm power spectrum during cosmic dawn. By comparing analytic calculations with simulations from 21cmvuc(fast), here we demonstrate that this modulation takes the form of robust velocity-induced acoustic oscillations (VAOs), during both the Lyman-α coupling era and the subsequent epoch of heating. The unique shape of these VAOs, which is determined by the acoustic physics that generated the relative velocities, can be analytically computed and is easily distinguishable from the usual density-sourced fluctuations. We find that, under a broad range of astrophysical assumptions, the VAOs are detectable at high significance by the upcoming HERA interferometer, which could therefore confirm the presence of acoustic oscillations at cosmic dawn.
Physical Review D
- Pub Date:
- September 2019
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 25 pages, 22 figures. Code available at https://github.com/JulianBMunoz/21cmvFAST. Updated to match accepted version