Probing the Intergalactic medium properties using X-ray absorption from multiple tracers


Based on the Lambda Cold Dark Matter concordance cosmological model (ΛCDM), the majority of baryons exist in the Intergalactic medium (IGM). It is extremely challenging to observationally trace the IGM, especially at higher temperatures and low densities. Post reionisation, the vast majority of hydrogen and helium is ionized in the IGM and therefore, the observation of metals is essential for parametrising the IGM properties. My hypothesis is that there is significant absorption in the diffuse highly ionisied IGM and that this IGM column density increases with redshift. I use X-ray absorption in multiple tracers which yields information on the total absorbing column density of the matter between the observer and the source. Clear IGM detections require tracer sources that are bright, distant, and common enough to provide a good statistical sample of IGM lines of sight (LOS). To more accurately isolate any IGM contribution to spectral absorption, I examine each tracer host type to realistically model it, in addition to using appropriate intrinsic continuum curvature models. I test the robustness of the result from a number of perspectives. I examine the impact of the key underlying assumptions that affect the column density calculations including metallicity, ionisation and location of absorption. I look for any evidence of evolution in the parameters. In Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5, I use gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), blazars and quasars (QSOs) to estimate IGM baryon column densities, metallicity, temperature, ionisation parameters and redshift distributions. My results for each tracer are presented in each of the respective chapters and collectively in Chapter 5 which includes comparative analysis. In conclusion, through the work in this thesis I demonstrate a consistent case for strong X-ray absorption in the IGM on the LOS to three different tracer types and that it is related to redshift. The results are consistent with the ΛCDM model for density, temperature and metallicity. Given these results, I would recommend that studies of distant objects should not follow the convention of assuming all X-ray absorption in excess of our Galaxy is attributed to the host galaxy, that the host is neutral and has solar metallicity. Instead, particularly at higher redshift, absorption in the IGM should be accounted for to give more accurate results for the tracer host properties

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