Quantiles as robust probes of non-Gaussianity in 21-cm images

Alon Banet, Rennan Barkana, Anastasia Fialkov, Or Guttman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The epoch in which the first stars and galaxies formed is among the most exciting unexplored eras of the Universe. A major research effort is focused on probing this era with the 21-cm spectral line of hydrogen. While most research works focus on statistics like the 21-cm power spectrum or the sky-averaged global signal, there are other ways to analyse tomographic 21-cm maps, which may lead to novel insights. We suggest statistics based on quantiles as a method to probe non-Gaussianities of the 21-cm signal. We show that they can be used in particular to probe the variance, skewness, and kurtosis of the temperature distribution, but are more flexible and robust than these standard statistics. We test these statistics on a range of possible astrophysical models, including different galactic halo masses, star formation efficiencies, and spectra of the X-ray heating sources, plus an exotic model with an excess early radio background. Simulating data with angular resolution and thermal noise as expected for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), we conclude that these statistics can be measured out to redshifts above 20 and offer a promising statistical method for probing early cosmic history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1232
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2021


  • cosmology: theory
  • dark ages, reionization, first stars
  • galaxies: high redshift

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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