Journal Article

An implementation of radiative transfer in the cosmological simulation code <span class="smallCaps">gadget</span>

Margarita Petkova and Volker Springel

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 3, pages 1383-1403
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
An implementation of radiative transfer in the cosmological simulation code gadget

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We present a novel numerical implementation of radiative transfer in the cosmological smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulation code gadget. It is based on a fast, robust and photon–conserving integration scheme where the radiation transport problem is approximated in terms of moments of the transfer equation and by using a variable Eddington tensor as a closure relation, following the Optically Thin Variable Eddington Tensor suggestion of Gnedin & Abel. We derive a suitable anisotropic diffusion operator for use in the SPH discretization of the local photon transport, and we combine this with an implicit solver that guarantees robustness and photon conservation. This entails a matrix inversion problem of a huge, sparsely populated matrix that is distributed in memory in our parallel code. We solve this task iteratively with a conjugate gradient scheme. Finally, to model photon sink processes we consider ionization and recombination processes of hydrogen, which is represented with a chemical network that is evolved with an implicit time integration scheme. We present several tests of our implementation, including single and multiple sources in static uniform density fields with and without temperature evolution, shadowing by a dense clump and multiple sources in a static cosmological density field. All tests agree quite well with analytical computations or with predictions from other radiative transfer codes, except for shadowing. However, unlike most other radiative transfer codes presently in use for studying re–ionization, our new method can be used on–the–fly during dynamical cosmological simulation, allowing simultaneous treatments of galaxy formation and the re–ionization process of the Universe.

Keywords: radiative transfer; methods: numerical

Journal Article.  15018 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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