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Simulating the epoch of Helium Reionization in photon-conserving semi-numerical code SCRIPT

Akanksha KapahtiaTirthankar Roy Choudhury
Feb 2024
The reionization of the second electron of helium (HeII) leaves important imprints on the thermal and ionization state of the intergalactic medium (IGM). Observational evidence suggests that HeII reionization ended at $z \simeq 3$ due to ionizing photons emitted predominantly by quasars. We present efficient semi-numerical simulations of helium reionization in a $230 \ \mathrm{h^{-1}~Mpc}$ box, that takes into account the spatial patchiness of reionization coupled with photoheating of the IGM. Dark matter haloes are assigned quasars using empirical measurements of the quasar luminosity function, assuming a universal quasar lifetime consistent with duty cycle values inferred from measurements of the quasar clustering. The ionizing photon field from quasars is then included in the semi-numerical Code for ReionIzation with PhoTon conservation (SCRIPT), which was originally developed for modeling hydrogen reionization. In this work, we make appropriate modifications to SCRIPT for modeling inhomogenous HeII reionization and the corresponding thermal history of the IGM is modelled via a subgrid prescription. Our model has three main free parameters i.e. the global clumping factor $\mathcal{C}_{HeIII}$, the temperature increase due to photoheating $T^{re}_{He}$ and the quasar spectral energy distribution (SED) index, $\alpha_{UV}$. Our fiducial model with $\mathcal{C}_{HeIII}=15.6$ and $T^{re}_{He} \sim 6000 \ K$ gives reasonable values for the empirical measurements of the temperature density equation of state at these redshifts, assuming that quasars brighter than $\mathrm{M_{1450}}<-21$ and having $\alpha_{UV}=1.7$ contribute to HeII reionization. The efficiency of our code shows promising prospects for performing parameter estimation in future, for models of HeII reionization using observations of the Ly$\alpha$ forest.
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