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Project Lyman

  • McCandliss, Stephan R.
  • Kruk, Jeffrey W.
  • Blair, William P.
  • Kaiser, Mary Elizabeth
  • Feldman, Paul D.
  • Meurer, Gerhardt R.
  • Dixon, William V.
  • Sahnow, David J.
  • Neufeld, David A.
  • Lupu, Roxana E.
  • Fleming, Brian
  • Smee, Stephen A.
  • Andersson, B. G.
  • Moseley, Samuel H.
  • Kutyrev, Alexander S.
  • Li, Mary J.
  • Sonneborn, George
  • Siegmund, Oswald H. W.
  • Vallerga, John V.
  • Welsh, Barry Y.
  • And 3 more
Publication Date
Jul 15, 2008
Submission Date
Jul 15, 2008
DOI: 10.1117/12.789574
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We explore the design of a space mission, Project Lyman, which has the goal of quantifying the ionization history of the universe from the present epoch to a redshift of z ~ 3. Observations from WMAP and SDSS show that before a redshift of z >~ 6 the first collapsed objects, possibly dwarf galaxies, emitted Lyman continuum (LyC) radiation shortward of 912 A, reionizing most of the universe. How LyC escapes from galactic environments, whether it induces positive or negative feedback on the local and global collapse of structures, and the role played by clumping, molecules, metallicity and dust are major unanswered theoretical questions, requiring observational constraint. Numerous intervening Lyman limit systems, which frustrate the detection of LyC from high z objects, thin below z ~ 3 where there are a few objects with apparently very high fesc. At low z there are only controversial detections and a handful of upper limits. A wide-field multi-object spectroscopic survey with moderate spectral and spatial resolution can quantify fesc within diverse spatially resolved galactic environments over redshifts with significant evolution in galaxy assemblage and quasar activity. It can also calibrate LyC escape against Ly-alpha escape, providing an essential tool to JWST for probing the beginnings of reionization. We present calculations showing the evolution of the characteristic apparent magnitude of star-forming galaxy luminosity functions at 900 A, as a function of redshift and assumed escape fraction to determine the required aperture for detecting LyC. We review our efforts to build a pathfinding dual order multi-object spectro/telescope with a (0.5deg)^2 field-of-view, using a GSFC microshutter array, and crossed delay-line micro-channel plate detector.

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