Measurements of one-point statistics in 21 cm intensity maps via foreground avoidance strategy

Measurements of the one-point probability distribution function and higher-order moments (variance, skewness, and kurtosis) of the high-redshift 21 cm fluctuations are among the most direct statistical probes of the non-Gaussian nature of structure formation and evolution during reionization. However, contamination from astrophysical foregrounds and instrument systematics pose significant challenges in measuring these statistics in real observations. In this work, we use forward modelling to investigate the feasibility of measuring 21 cm one-point statistics through a foreground avoidance strategy. Leveraging the well-known characteristic of foreground contamination in which it occupies a wedge-shape region in k-space, we apply a foreground wedge-cut filter that removes the contaminated modes from a mock data set based on the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) instrument, and measure the one-point statistics from the image-space representation of the remaining non-contaminated modes. We experiment with wedge-cutting over different frequency bandwidths and varying degrees of removal that correspond to different assumptions on the extent of the foreground sources on the sky and leakage from the Fourier Transform window function. We find that the centre of the band is the least biased from wedge-cutting while the edges of the band are unusable due to being highly down-weighted by the window function. Based on this finding, we introduce a rolling filter method that allows reconstruction of an optimal wedge-cut 21~cm intensity map over the full bandwidth using outputs from wedge-cutting over multiple sub-bands. We perform Monte Carlo simulations to show that HERA should be able to measure the rise in skewness and kurtosis near the end of reionization with the rolling wedge-cut method if foreground leakage from the Fourier transform window function can be controlled.

Measurements of one-point statistics in 21 cm intensity maps via foreground avoidance strategy, Piyanat Kittiwisit (1,2), Judd D. Bowman (2), Steven G. Murray (2), Bharat K. Gehlot (3,2), Daniel C. Jacobs (2), Adam P. Beardsley (4,2) ((1) Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of the Western Cape, (2) School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, (3) Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, (4) Physics Department, Winona State University), submitted to MNRAS, arXiv:2204.01124