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Prospects for Observing the Cosmic Web in Lyman-\alpha Emission

, , , , and . (2019)cite arxiv:1905.06954Comment: 18 pages, 13 figures. Submitted to MNRAS.

Abstract

Mapping the intergalactic medium (IGM) in Lyman-$\alpha$ emission would yield unprecedented tomographic information on the large-scale distribution of baryons and potentially provide new constraints on the UV background and various feedback processes relevant for galaxy formation. Here, we examine the Lyman-$\alpha$ emission of the moderate-density IGM due to collisional excitations and recombinations in the presence of a UV background in the Sherwood simulation suite. We focus on large-scale-structure filaments in which Lyman-$\alpha$ radiative transfer effects are expected to be moderate. At low density the emission is primarily due to fluorescent re-emission of the ionising UV background due to recombinations, while collisional excitations dominate at higher densities. We discuss prospects of current and future observational facilities to detect this emission and focus on VLT/MUSE for a more detailed sensitivity analysis. We construct mock MUSE observations resembling the MUSE Hubble Deep Field South from our simulations and show that our predictions are consistent with recent analyses of diffuse Lyman-$\alpha$ emission using MUSE at redshifts $3 < z < 6$. We find that it should be most feasible to detect the Lyman-$\alpha$ emission from filaments in the IGM in overdense regions, somewhat surprisingly towards the high-redshift end ($z 4.5$) accessible by MUSE, and if narrowband widths close to the MUSE spectral resolution limit are used. This is due to the higher densities and lower temperatures in the IGM at higher redshift. High-redshift protoclusters therefore appear to be the ideal environment to observe filamentary structures in the IGM in Lyman-$\alpha$ emission.

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Prospects for Observing the Cosmic Web in Lyman-{\alpha} Emission

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