Wednesday, July 10, 2013

1307.2244 (Hilary Egan et al.)

Bringing Simulation and Observation Together to Better Understand the Intergalactic Medium    [PDF]

Hilary Egan, Britton D. Smith, Brian W. O'Shea, J. Michael Shull
The methods by which one characterizes the distribution of matter in cosmological simulations is intrinsically different from how one performs the same task observationally. In this paper, we make critical steps towards comparing simulations and observations of the intergalactic medium (IGM) in a more sensible way. We present a pipeline that generates and fits synthetic QSO absorption spectra using sight lines cast through a cosmological simulation, and simultaneously identifies structure by directly analyzing the variations in H I and O VI number density. We compare synthetic absorption spectra with a less observationally motivated, but more straightforward method for finding absorbers. Our efforts focus on H I and O VI to better characterize the warm/hot intergalactic medium, a subset of the IGM that is challenging to conclusively identify observationally. We find that the two methods trace roughly the same amount of material above observable column density limits, but the synthetic spectra typically identify more substructure in absorbers. We use both methods to characterize H I and O VI absorber properties. We find that column density distributions from both methods generally agree with observations. The distribution of Doppler parameters are similar for Ly{\alpha} and compare favorably with observational results, but are systematically different for O VI. Comparisons of distance between absorbers and the nearest galaxy show that O VI absorbers are tightly correlated with galaxies in our simulation, in agreement with observations. We find a strong correlation between O VI baryon fraction and O VI column density. We also discuss a possible bimodality in the temperature distribution of the gas traced by O VI.
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