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K.R. Sembach (STScI), R. Cen (Princeton), R. Dave (U. Arizona), T. Cook (Boston U.), M. Donahue (Michigan St.), D.C. Ebbets (Ball Aerospace & Tech. Corp.), J.C. Green (U. Colorado), E.B. Jenkins (Princeton), W.R. Oegerle (NASA/GSFC), J.P. Ostriker (Princeton), J.X. Prochaska (U.C. Santa Cruz), B.D. Savage (U. Wisconsin), J.M. Shull (U. Colorado), H.P. Stahl (NASA/MSFC), T.M. Tripp (U. Massachusetts), B. D. Oppenheimer (U. Arizona), S.R. Furlanetto (Caltech), T. Fang (U.C. Berkeley)
This concept study defines the scientific requirements and instrumental performance needed for a space mission to detect and characterize the cosmic web of matter, the processes that produce and govern its structure, and its influence on the formation and evolution of galaxies. Our new numerical simulations explicitly track the observational signatures of the web gas as a function of time (redshift) up to the present day. The simulations include prescriptions for feedback interactions between galaxies and the intergalactic medium, and demonstrate that the ultraviolet O VI lines and the H I Lyman alpha line are premier diagnostics of low-density cosmic web regions. We define the field of view, angular resolution, and sensitivity needed to detect the web filaments in emission and absorption, and the spectral resolution needed to separate the gas signatures from foreground signals. These results define the driving science requirements for the Baryonic Structure Probe and any other future missions seeking to characterize the cosmic web. The science requirements can be met with a dedicated observatory in an L2 orbit capable of simultaneously observing both the faint emissions and weak absorption lines from the cosmic web. Our mission concept baselines a low risk 5-year core science mission with a 10-year design lifetime. Technological investments that would improve performance include the development of high quantum efficiency ultraviolet detectors, large format diffraction gratings, and improved optical coatings.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.