Physical Cosmology From the 21-cm Line
- Author(s): Furlanetto, Steven R;
- et al.
We describe how the high-redshift 21-cm background can be used to improve both our understanding of the fundamental cosmological parameters of our Universe and exotic processes originating in the dark sector. The 21-cm background emerging during the cosmological Dark Ages, the era between hydrogen recombination and the formation of the first luminous sources (likely at z ~ 30), is difficult to measure but provides several powerful advantages for these purposes: in addition to the lack of astrophysical contamination, it will allow probes of very small scale structure over a very large volume. Additionally, the 21-cm background is sensitive to the thermal state of the intergalactic hydrogen and therefore probes any exotic processes (including, e.g., dark matter scattering or decay and primordial black holes) during that era. After astrophysical sources have formed, cosmological information can be separated from astrophysical effects on the 21-cm background through methods such as redshift space distortions, joint modeling, and by searching for indirect effects on the astrophysical sources themselves.