Measurements of effective optical depth in the Lyα Forest from the BOSS DR12 quasar sample

Vikrant Kamble, Kyle S. Dawson, Helion du Mas des Bourboux, Julian Ernesto Bautista, Donald P. Scheinder

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We measure the effective optical depth in the Lyα forest using 40,035 quasar spectra from the Twelfth Data Release (DR12) of the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey of Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV. A rigorous selection based on spectral index and the equivalent width of the C iv emission line is applied to choose seven uniform samples with minimal intrinsic variations across redshifts. Modeling the redshift evolution of the effective optical depth with a power law, ${\tau }_{\mathrm{eff}}={\tau }_{0}{(1+z)}^{\gamma },$ produces ${\tau }_{0}=(5.54\pm 0.64)\times {10}^{-3}$ and $\gamma =3.182\pm 0.074$. The 2.2% precision estimate on γ is dominated by systematic errors, likely arising from the bias and uncertainties in spectral index estimates. Even after incorporating the systematic errors, this work provides the most precise estimates of optical depth parameters to date. Finally, using the reconstructed Lyα forest continuum to directly measure the transmitted flux ratio as a function of redshift, we find deviations of less than 2.5% from the predictions from the global model and no convincing evidence for signal associated with He ii reionization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020


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