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Astron. Astrophys. 347, 757-768 (1999)

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Non-linear gravitational clustering: smooth halos, substructures and scaling exponents

Patrick Valageas

Service de Physique Théorique, CEA Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Received 22 January 1999 / Accepted 19 April 1999


Within the framework of hierarchical clustering scenarios, we investigate the consequences for the properties of virialized halos of the constraints provided by numerical simulations on the first few correlation functions. Thus, we show that the density field cannot be described by a collection of smooth halos with a universal density profile. This implies that substructures within larger objects play an important role (but a mean spherically averaged density profile may exist). In particular, a possible interpretation is that collapsed objects can be divided into an infinite hierarchy of smaller objects with increasingly large densities (these substructures might also be continuously destroyed and created by the long-range action of gravity). Finally, we present multifractal models (restricted to non-linear scales) which can describe in a natural way such non-linear density fields with increasingly large fluctuations at smaller scales. We relate their properties to the correlation functions and present a few constraints they are expected to satisfy, using theoretical considerations as well as constraints from numerical simulations. Thus, the simplest realistic model is the bifractal model described in Balian & Schaeffer (1989a). Moreover, we show that it should provide (at least) a very good approximation of the multifractal properties of the actual non-linear density field, hence of the probability distribution of the density contrast. The implications of this model (e.g. for galaxies) are detailed in other studies.

Key words: cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe – galaxies: clusters: general

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: June 6, 1999