Detecting a deviation from a featureless primordial power spectrum of fluctuations would give profound insight into the physics of the primordial Universe. Depending on their nature, primordial features can either provide direct evidence for the inflation scenario or pin down details of the inflation model. Thus far, using the cosmic microwave background (CMB) we have only been able to put stringent constraints on the amplitude of features, but no significant evidence has been found for such signals. Here we explore the limit of the experimental reach in constraining such features using 21 cm tomography at high redshift. A measurement of the 21 cm power spectrum from the Dark Ages is generally considered as the ideal experiment for early Universe physics, with potentially access to a large number of modes. We consider three different categories of theoretically motivated models: the sharp feature models, resonance models, and standard clock models. We study the improvements on bounds on features as a function of the total number of observed modes and identify parameter degeneracies. The detectability depends critically on the amplitude, frequency and scale-location of the features, as well as the angular and redshift resolution of the experiment. We quantify these effects by considering different fiducial models. Our forecast shows that a cosmic variance limited 21 cm experiment measuring fluctuations in the redshift range $30\leq z \leq 100$ with a 0.1-MHz bandwidth and sub-arcminute angular resolution could potentially improve bounds by several order of magnitude compared current Planck bounds for most features. At the same time, 21 cm tomography also opens up a unique window into features that are located on very small scales.
X. Chen, P. Meerburg and M. Munchmeyer
Tue, 31 May 16
Comments: 30 pages, 15 figures, companion paper to the LSS forecast. Comments welcome