Moving mesh cosmology: tracing cosmological gas accretion
We investigate the nature of gas accretion onto haloes and galaxies at z=2 using cosmological hydrodynamic simulations run with the moving mesh code AREPO. Implementing a Monte Carlo tracer particle scheme to determine the origin and thermodynamic history of accreting gas, we make quantitative comparisons to an otherwise identical simulation run with the smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code GADGET-3. Contrasting these two numerical approaches, we find significant physical differences in the thermodynamic history of accreted gas in haloes above 10^10.5 solar masses. In agreement with previous work, GADGET simulations show a cold fraction near unity for galaxies forming in massive haloes, implying that only a small percentage of accreted gas heats to an appreciable fraction of the virial temperature during accretion. The same galaxies in AREPO show a much lower cold fraction, <20% in haloes above 10^11 solar masses. This results from a hot gas accretion rate which, at this same halo mass, is an order of magnitude larger than with GADGET, while the cold accretion rate is also lower. These discrepancies increase for more massive systems, and we explain both as due to numerical inaccuracies in the standard formulation of SPH. We also observe that the relatively sharp transition from cold to hot mode dominated accretion, at a halo mass of ~10^11, is a consequence of comparing past gas temperatures to a constant threshold value independent of virial temperature. Examining the spatial distribution of accreting gas, we find that gas filaments in GADGET tend to remain collimated and flow coherently to small radii, or artificially fragment and form a large number of purely numerical "blobs". Similar gas streams in AREPO show increased heating and disruption at 0.25-0.5 virial radii and contribute to the hot gas accretion rate in a manner distinct from classical cooling flows.