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Evolution of the Ly$\alpha$ forest: a consistent picture

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arXiv ID: astro-ph/9508129
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We study the evolution with redshift of the number density of Ly$\alpha$ clouds in a CDM model using numerical simulations including photo-ionization and cooling of the baryonic component. The photo-ionizing flux is consistently taken as proportional to the rate at which material cools below 5000~K in the simulation. The number density of lines with $N$(HI)~$>$~10$^{14}$~cm$^{-2}$ given by the simulation can be approximated as d$n$/d$z$~$\sim$~16.8(1+$z$)$^{0.8}$+0.687(1+z)$^{2.5}$ which fits well the data at any redshift. The number of weaker lines is reproduced within a factor of two and does not decrease with time as fast as the number of strong lines. For $N$(HI)~$>$~10$^{13}$~cm$^{-2}$, we find d$n$/d$z$~$\propto$~(1+$z$)$^{0.7}$. \par At $z$~=~0, the two-point correlation function for Lyman$\alpha$ clouds with $N$(HI)~$>$~10$^{13}$ and $>$~10$^{14}$~cm$^{-2}$ has a slope $\sim$~-1.75 comparable to the slope of the two point correlation function for the galaxy distribution. The signal is higher for stronger lines for separations smaller than 1~Mpc. Part of the Lyman$\alpha$ forest is indeed associated with galaxies however the overall picture is that Ly$\alpha$ absorption lines originate in the warm gas that traces the potential wells of filamentary structures defined by the dark matter.


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