Moving mesh cosmology: properties of neutral hydrogen in absorption
We examine the distribution of neutral hydrogen in cosmological simulations carried out with the new moving-mesh code AREPO and compare it with the corresponding GADGET simulations based on the smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) technique. The two codes use identical gravity solvers and baryonic physics implementations, but very different methods for solving the Euler equations, allowing us to assess how numerical effects associated with the hydro-solver impact the results of simulations. Here we focus on an analysis of the neutral gas, as detected in quasar absorption lines. We find that the high column density regime probed by Damped Lyman-alpha (DLA) and Lyman Limit Systems (LLS) exhibits significant differences between the codes. GADGET produces spurious artefacts in large halos in the form of gaseous clumps, boosting the LLS cross-section. Furthermore, it forms halos with denser central baryonic cores than AREPO, which leads to a substantially greater DLA cross-section from smaller halos. AREPO thus produces a significantly lower cumulative abundance of DLAs, which is intriguingly in much closer agreement with observations. For the low column density gas probed by the Lyman-alpha forest, the codes differ only at the level of a few percent, suggesting that this regime is quite well described by both methods, a fact that is reassuring for the many Lyman-alpha studies carried out with SPH thus far. While the residual differences are smaller than the errors on current Lyman-alpha forest data, we note that this will likely change for future precision experiments.