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Direct insights into observational absorption line analysis methods of the circumgalactic medium using cosmological simulations


Churchill, Christopher W; Vliet, Jacob R Vander; Trujillo-Gomez, Sebastian; Kacprzak, Glenn G; Klypin, Anatoly (2015). Direct insights into observational absorption line analysis methods of the circumgalactic medium using cosmological simulations. The Astrophysical Journal, 802(1):10.

Abstract

We study the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of a z = 0.54 simulated dwarf galaxy using hydroART simulations. We present our analysis methods, which emulate observations, including objective absorption line detection, apparent optical depth (AOD) measurements, Voigt profile (VP) decomposition, and ionization modeling. By comparing the inferred CGM gas properties from the absorption lines directly to the gas selected by low ionization H i and Mg ii, and by higher ionization C iv and O vi absorption, we examine how well observational analysis methods recover the “true” properties of CGM gas. In this dwarf galaxy, low ionization gas arises in sub-kiloparsec “cloud” structures, but high ionization gas arises in multiple extended structures spread over 100 kpc; due to complex velocity fields, highly separated structures give rise to absorption at similar velocities. We show that AOD and VP analysis fails to accurately characterize the spatial, kinematic, and thermal conditions of high ionization gas. We find that H i absorption selected gas and O vi absorption gas arise in totally distinct physical gas structures, calling into question current observational techniques employed to infer metallicities and the total mass of “warm-hot” CGM gas. We present a method to determine whether C iv and O vi absorbing gas is photo or collisionally ionized and whether the assumption of ionization equilibrium is sound. As we discuss, these and additional findings have strong implications for how accurately currently employed observational absorption line methods recover the true gas properties, and ultimately, our ability to understand the CGM and its role in galaxy evolution.

Abstract

We study the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of a z = 0.54 simulated dwarf galaxy using hydroART simulations. We present our analysis methods, which emulate observations, including objective absorption line detection, apparent optical depth (AOD) measurements, Voigt profile (VP) decomposition, and ionization modeling. By comparing the inferred CGM gas properties from the absorption lines directly to the gas selected by low ionization H i and Mg ii, and by higher ionization C iv and O vi absorption, we examine how well observational analysis methods recover the “true” properties of CGM gas. In this dwarf galaxy, low ionization gas arises in sub-kiloparsec “cloud” structures, but high ionization gas arises in multiple extended structures spread over 100 kpc; due to complex velocity fields, highly separated structures give rise to absorption at similar velocities. We show that AOD and VP analysis fails to accurately characterize the spatial, kinematic, and thermal conditions of high ionization gas. We find that H i absorption selected gas and O vi absorption gas arise in totally distinct physical gas structures, calling into question current observational techniques employed to infer metallicities and the total mass of “warm-hot” CGM gas. We present a method to determine whether C iv and O vi absorbing gas is photo or collisionally ionized and whether the assumption of ionization equilibrium is sound. As we discuss, these and additional findings have strong implications for how accurately currently employed observational absorption line methods recover the true gas properties, and ultimately, our ability to understand the CGM and its role in galaxy evolution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:March 2015
Deposited On:23 Feb 2016 07:55
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:05
Publisher:Institute of Physics Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1538-4357
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/802/1/10
Other Identification Number:arXiv:1409.0914v2

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