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An Illumination of the Dark Ages: modeling reionization and interpreting observations

Project description

A closer look at the formation of the first galaxies

In the depths of astrophysical cosmology lies an extraordinary challenge: unravelling the mysteries of the Universe's earliest galaxies and their ethereal glow that bathed the cosmos in light. Devoting substantial resources to investigate the epochs of Cosmic Dawn (CD) and Reionisation (EoR), scientists are determined to decipher these ancient cosmic puzzles. In this context, the ERC-funded AIDA project aims to enhance the widely-used simulation tool, 21cmFAST. By incorporating groundbreaking sub-grid, semi-analytic models, the project seeks to untangle the complex physical processes governing the evolution of ionising photons. Through these state-of-the-art simulations, researchers hope to unlock profound insights into the formation of the primordial galaxies, their influence on the EoR, and the telltale observational imprints they left behind.


"Understanding the dawn of the first galaxies and how their light permeated the early Universe is at the very frontier of modern astrophysical cosmology. Generous resources, including ambitions observational programs, are being devoted to studying these epochs of Cosmic Dawn (CD) and Reionization (EoR). In order to interpret these observations, we propose to build on our widely-used, semi-numeric simulation tool, 21cmFAST, and apply it to observations. Using sub-grid, semi-analytic models, we will incorporate additional physical processes governing the evolution of sources and sinks of ionizing photons. The resulting state-of-the-art simulations will be well poised to interpret topical observations of quasar spectra and the cosmic 21cm signal. They would be both physically-motivated and fast, allowing us to rapidly explore astrophysical parameter space. We will statistically quantify the resulting degeneracies and constraints, providing a robust answer to the question, ""What can we learn from EoR/CD observations?"" As an end goal, these investigations will help us understand when the first generations of galaxies formed, how they drove the EoR, and what are the associated large-scale observational signatures."

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 468 750,00
56126 Pisa

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Centro (IT) Toscana Pisa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 468 750,00

Beneficiaries (1)