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Connecting Galaxies and the Intergalactic Medium Near Reionization

Physics/Astro Auditorium

George Becker (UC Riverside)

February 7 @ 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The reionization of hydrogen was a landmark event in cosmic history.  Within one billion years of the Big Bang the first galaxies emitted enough ultraviolet photons to ionize the gas in deep space, permanently transforming the Universe.  Determining exactly when and how reionization occurred is therefore central to our efforts to understand these early sources, as well as the physics that governs the interaction between galaxies and their environments.  I will describe what we know about reionization from the study of quasar absorption lines and other probes of the high-redshift Universe, focusing especially on what we’re learning about the intergalactic medium (IGM) shorty after reionization is believed to end.  By combining observations of high-redshift quasars with wide-field galaxy surveys we are beginning to better appreciate the complexity of the IGM at this epoch, and recognize how it may help us to construct a more complete model of reionization.