Haunted haloes: tracking the ghosts of subhaloes lost by halo finders
Dark matter subhaloes are key for the predictions of simulations of structure formation, but their existence frequently ends prematurely due to two technical issues, namely numerical disruption in N-body simulations and halo finders failing to identify them. Here we focus on the second issue, using the phase-space friends-of-friends halo finder ROCKSTAR as a benchmark (though we expect our results to translate to comparable codes). We confirm that the most prominent cause for losing track of subhaloes is tidal distortion rather than a low number of particles. As a solution, we present a flexible post-processing algorithm that tracks all subhalo particles over time, computes subhalo positions and masses based on those particles, and progressively removes stripped matter. If a subhalo is lost by the halo finder, this algorithm keeps tracking its so-called ghost until it has almost no particles left or has truly merged with its host. We apply this technique to a large suite of N-body simulations and restore lost subhaloes to the halo catalogues, which has a dramatic effect on key summary statistics of large-scale structure. Specifically, the subhalo mass function increases by about 50% and the halo correlation function increases by a factor of two at small scales. While these quantitative results are somewhat specific to our algorithm, they demonstrate that particle tracking is a promising way to reliably follow haloes and reduce the need for orphan models. Our algorithm and augmented halo catalogues are publicly available.
- Pub Date:
- May 2023
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 16 pages, 10 figures. Comments welcome