The volume fraction of ionized intergalactic gas at redshift z = 6.5

Sangeeta Malhotra, James E. Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The observed number density of Lyα sources implies a minimum volume of the intergalactic medium that must be ionized, in order to allow the Lyα photons to escape attenuation. We estimate this volume by assigning to each Lyα emitter the minimum ionized bubble that would allow half its Lyα photons to escape. This implies a lower limit to the ionized gas volume fraction of 20%-50% at z = 6.5. This is a lower limit in two ways: First, we conservatively assume that the Lyα sources seen (at a relatively bright flux limit) are the only ones present, and second, we assume the smallest ionized bubble volume that will allow the photons to escape. This limit is completely independent of what ionizing photon sources produced the bubbles. Deeper Lyα surveys are possible with present technology and can strengthen these limits by detecting a higher density of Lyα galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L95-L98
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Aug 20 2006


  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Intergalactic medium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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