Voigt-profile analysis of the Lyα forest in a cold dark matter universe

Romeel Davé, Lars Hernquist, David H. Weinberg, Neal Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We use an automated Voigt-profile fitting procedure to extract statistical properties of the Lyα forest in a numerical simulation of an Ω = 1, cold dark matter (CDM) universe. Our analysis method is similar to that used in most observational studies of the forest, and we compare the simulations to recently published results derived from Keck HIRES spectra. With the Voigt-profile decomposition analysis, the simulation reproduces the large number of weak lines (NHI ≲ 1014 cm-2) found in the HIRES spectra. The column density distribution evolves significantly between z = 3 and z = 2, with the number of lines at fixed column density dropping by a factor ∼1.6 in the range where line blending is not severe. At z = 3, the b-parameter distribution has a median of 35 km s-1 and a dispersion of 20 km s-1, in reasonable agreement with the observed values. The comparison between our new analysis and recent data strengthens earlier claims that the Lyα forest arises naturally in hierarchical structure formation as photoionized gas falls into dark matter potential wells. However, there are two statistically signficant discrepancies between the simulated forest and the HIRES results: the model produces too many lines at z = 3 by a factor ∼1.5-2, and it produces more narrow lines (b < 20 km s-1) than are seen in the data. The first result is sensitive to our adopted normalization of the mean Lyα optical depth, and the second is sensitive to our assumption that helium reionization has not significantly raised gas temperatures at z = 3. It is therefore too early to say whether these discrepancies indicate a fundamental problem with the high-redshift structure of the Ω = 1 CDM model or reflect errors of detail in our modeling of the gas distribution or the observational procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: formation
  • Large-scale structure of universe
  • Line: profiles
  • Methods: numerical
  • Quasars: absorption lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Voigt-profile analysis of the Lyα forest in a cold dark matter universe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this