One important new frontier of cosmology is the Epoch of Reionization (EoR), marking the time when the Universe's first luminous objects formed and the time of the final phase of cosmological formation of structure in the Universe. Most investigators seek to observe the EoR by detecting neutral hydrogen gas of the intergalactic medium (IGM) through its signature in the redshifted 21-cm spectral line. While a variety of projects are currently underway to detect the EoR signal, thermal noise will dominant the signal and will require careful statistical analysis of the observational data to infer the statistical nature of the EoR signal. Unfortunately, one of the statistical techniques employed will be to characterize power spectrum of the EoR signal even though this signal is expected to be non-Gaussian.
The intent of this project is to systematically explore statistics that reach far beyond the power spectrum technique. The investigators will compute radiative transfer simulations of reionization for a wide variety of well-defined theoretical models. Expected thermal noise, foreground corruption, and instrumental distortions will next be added to the simulations to produce complete simulations of observational sky maps in 21 cm. The investigators will next measure a range of statistics on these simulated observational maps to characterize the most robust useful information obtainable from the EoR signal.
Educationally, an undergraduate will receive support and mentoring at one institution, and graduate students at two institutions will receive support and mentoring. An important feature of student training in this project is the interdisciplinary nature of the research including complex statistical analysis, analytical and numerical simulations, instrumental modeling, and astrophysics. The student experience will also emphasize the interconnection between experimental conditions and scientific analysis.