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The End of Darkness: How the Universe Reionized Its Gas

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Titel The End of Darkness: How the Universe Reionized Its Gas
Looptijd 04 / 2011 - 04 / 2017
Status Lopend
Onderzoeknummer OND1342508
Leverancier gegevens NWO Vici 2011

Samenvatting (EN)

Using LOFAR the current proposal plans to detect the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) and its evolution. This is one of the important stages in the Universe's history according to Big-Bang cosmology. The EoR, which occurs about 400 million-years after the Big-Bang, represents a major phase transition for hydrogen. Due to the formation of the first astrophysical sources, hydrogen in this epoch transforms from fully neutral to fully ionized. The EoR could be traced in space and time using relic radio emission that will be observed by the LOFAR radio telescope starting from the end of this year. The EoR is determined by how and when the Universe started forming astrophysical objects and how the ionizing radiation from these objects permeate and fill the intergalactic medium. The EoR is related to many fundamental questions in cosmology, properties of first (mini-)quasars, formation of very metal-poor stars and a slew of other important research topics in astrophysics. Hence uncovering it will have far reaching implications on the study of structure formation in the early Universe. In this proposal, I plan to use the LOFAR-EoR groundbreaking experiment to determine the global properties of the reionization process and the evolution of its spatial structure with cosmic time. To achieve this, I will: 1- develop advanced techniques to extract the EoR signal from the data; 2- classify and characterize the statistical properties of a large number of simulated EoR models and quantify their dependencies on the various physical parameters of reionization; this will form the basis for the data analysis and interpretation; 3- uncover the EoR by comparing these statistical properties with the data; 4- use the experience gained with LOFAR to predict, help design and optimize future EoR experiments, especially, the key radio telescope of the next decade, the Square Kilometer Array. The End of Darkness: How the Universe Ionized its Gas. About 400 million years after the Big-Bang the Universe started forming its first stars and galaxies. Radiation from these objects transformed completely ionized cosmic gas. This project aims at detecting and understanding this process using the LOFAR radio telescope

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Projectleider Prof.dr. S. Zaroubi

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