The life and death of cosmic voids

P. M. Sutter, Pascal Elahi, Bridget Falck, Julian Onions, Nico Hamaus, Alexander Knebe, Chaichalit Srisawat, Aurel Schneider

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We investigate the formation, growth, merger history, movement, and destruction of cosmic voids detected via the watershed transform code VIDE in a cosmological N-body dark matter {\Lambda}CDM simulation. By adapting a method used to construct halo merger trees, we are able to trace individual voids back to their initial appearance and record the merging and evolution of their progenitors at high redshift. For the scales of void sizes captured in our simulation, we find that the void formation rate peaks at scale factor 0.3, which coincides with a growth in the void hierarchy and the emergence of dark energy. Voids of all sizes appear at all scale factors, though the median initial void size decreases with time. When voids become detectable they have nearly their present-day volumes. Almost all voids have relatively stable growth rates and suffer only infrequent minor mergers. Dissolution of a void via merging is very rare. Instead, most voids maintain their distinct identity as annexed subvoids of a larger parent. The smallest voids are collapsing at the present epoch, but void destruction ceases after scale factor 0.3. In addition, voids centers tend to move very little, less than 0.01 of their effective radii per ln a, over their lifetimes. Overall, most voids exhibit little radical dynamical evolution; their quiet lives make them pristine probes of cosmological initial conditions and the imprint of dark energy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1244
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2014


  • astro-ph.CO
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/K00090/1 and ST/L005573/1


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