Large 21 cm signals from AGN-dominated reionization

10 Aug 2017

We present predictions for the spatial distribution of 21-cm brightness temperature fluctuations from high-dynamic-range simulations for active galactic nucleus (AGN)-dominated reionization histories that have been tested against available Ly$\alpha$ and cosmic microwave background (CMB) data. We model AGNs by extrapolating the observed $M_\text{bh}$ − σ relation to high redshifts and assign them ionizing emissivities consistent with recent UV luminosity function measurements. We assess the observability of the predicted spatial 21-cm fluctuations in the late stages of reionization in the limit in which the hydrogen 21-cm spin temperature is significantly larger than the CMB temperature. Our AGN-dominated reionization histories increase the variance of the 21-cm emission by a factor of up to 10 compared to similar reionization histories dominated by faint galaxies, to values close to 100 mK$^2$ at scales accessible to experiments ($k$ $\lesssim$ 1 cMpc$^{−1}$ $h$). This is lower than the sensitivity reached by ongoing experiments only by a factor of about 2 or less. When reionization is dominated by AGNs, the 21-cm power spectrum is enhanced on all scales due to the enhanced bias of the clustering of the more massive haloes and the peak in the large scale 21-cm power is strongly enhanced and moved to larger scales due to bigger characteristic bubble sizes. AGN-dominated reionization should be easily detectable by Low Frequency Array (and later Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array and Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array) at their design sensitivity, assuming successful foreground subtraction and instrument calibration. Conversely, these could become the first non-trivial reionization scenarios to be ruled out by 21-cm experiments, thereby constraining the contribution of AGNs to reionization.