Journal Article

Possible evidence for an inverted temperature–density relation in the intergalactic medium from the flux distribution of the Lyα forest

J. S. Bolton, M. Viel, T.-S. Kim, M. G. Haehnelt and R. F. Carswell

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 386, issue 2, pages 1131-1144
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13114.x
Possible evidence for an inverted temperature–density relation in the intergalactic medium from the flux distribution of the Lyα forest

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We compare the improved measurement of the Lyα forest flux probability distribution at 1.7 < z < 3.2 presented by Kim et al. to a large set of hydrodynamical simulations of the Lyα forest with different cosmological parameters and thermal histories. The simulations are in good agreement with the observational data if the temperature–density relation for the low-density intergalactic medium (IGM), T=T0Δγ−1, is either close to isothermal or inverted (γ < 1). Our results suggest that the voids in the IGM may be significantly hotter and the thermal state of the low-density IGM may be substantially more complex than is usually assumed at these redshifts. We discuss radiative transfer effects which alter the spectral shape of ionizing radiation during the epoch of He ii reionization as a possible physical mechanism for achieving an inverted temperature–density relation at z≃ 3.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; methods: numerical; intergalactic medium; quasars: absorption lines

Journal Article.  11196 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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