ArtIST: Fast radiative transfer for large-scale simulations of the epoch of reionization

Margherita Molaro, Romeel Davé, Sultan Hassan, Mario G. Santos, Kristian Finlator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We introduce the ‘Asymmetric Radiative Transfer In Shells Technique’ (ARTIST), a new method for photon propagation on large scales that explicitly conserves photons, propagates photons at the speed of light, approximately accounts for photon directionality, and closely reproduces results of more detailed radiative transfer (RT) methods. Crucially, it is computationally fast enough to evolve the large cosmological volumes required to predict the 21cm power spectrum on scales that will be probed by future experiments targeting the epoch of reionization (EoR). Most seminumerical models aimed at predicting the EoR 21cm signal on these scales use an excursion set formalism (ESF) to model the gas ionization, which achieves computational viability by making a number of approximations. While ARTIST is still roughly two orders of magnitude slower than ESF, it does allow to model the EoR without the need for such approximations. This is particularly important when considering a wide range of reionization scenarios for which ARTIST would help limit the assumptions made. By implementing our RT method within the seminumerical code SIMFAST21, we show that ARTIST predicts a significantly different evolution for the EoR ionization field compared to the code’s native ESF. In particular, ARTIST predicts up to a factor of two difference in the power spectra, depending on the physical parameters assumed. Its application to large-scale EoR simulations will therefore allow more physically motivated constraints to be obtained for key EoR parameters. In particular, it will remove the need for the artificial rescaling of the escape fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5594-5611
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 11 2019


  • First stars
  • Radiative transfer – dark ages
  • Reionization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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