The temperature of the low-density intergalactic medium is set by the balance between adiabatic cooling resulting from the expansion of the universe, and photo-heating by the UV-background. A sudden injection of entropy from the reionization will increase the temperature of the gas, leading to a broadening of the hydrogen Lyman-alpha absorption lines produced in the IGM, and observed in the spectra of background quasars. We present a method based on wavelets to characterise objectively the line widths of such absorption lines. We use high resolution hydrodynamical simulations to demonstrate that the algorithm can detect changes in temperature of order of 50 per cent on scales > 5000 km/s. We apply the method to a UVES/VLT spectrum of quasar 0055--269 (emission redshift=3.7) and detect at the 99 per cent confidence level a sudden increase in temperature below redshift z=3.3, which we interpret as evidence for HeliumII reionization.
|Original language||American English|
|Number of pages||4|
|State||Published - 2001|