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S. R. Furlanetto (California Institute of Technology/Yale University), C. L. Carilli (National Radio Astronomy Observatory), F. H. Briggs (RSAA/Mt. Stromlo, ATNF), M. Jarvis, S. Rawlings (Oxford University), H. Falcke (ASTRON)
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be one of a suite of new, large telescopes for the 21st century probing fundamental physics, the origin and evolution of the Universe, the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the formation and distribution of planets.
The epoch of reionization (EoR) sets a fundamental benchmark in cosmic structure formation, corresponding to the formation of the first luminous objects that ionize the neutral intergalactic medium (IGM). Recent observations at near-IR and radio wavelengths imply that we are finally probing into this key epoch of galaxy formation at z > 6. The SKA will provide critical insight into the EoR in a number of ways (for a review, see Carilli et al. 2004, NewAR, 48, 1029). First, the ability of the SKA to image the neutral IGM in 21cm emission is a truly unique probe of the process of reionization and is recognized as the next necessary and fundamental step in our study of the evolution of large scale structure and cosmic reionization. Second, study of HI 21cm absorption toward the first radio loud objects probes small to intermediate scale structure in the neutral 'cosmic web', as well as HI in the first collapsed structures (proto-disks and mini-halos). And third, the incomparable sensitivity of the SKA allows for the study of the molecular gas, dust, and star formation activity in the first galaxies, as well as the radio continuum emission from the first accreting massive black holes. Such objects will be obscured at optical wavelengths due to absorption by the neutral IGM.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is operated by Associated Universities, Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.