Merger trees follow the growth and merger of dark-matter haloes over cosmic history. As well as giving important insights into the growth of cosmic structure in their own right, they provide an essential backbone to semi-analytic models of galaxy formation. This paper is the first in a series to arise from the Sussing Merger Trees Workshop in which 10 different tree-building algorithms were applied to the same set of halo catalogues and their results compared. Although many of these codes were similar in nature, all algorithms produced distinct results. Our main conclusions are that a useful merger-tree code should possess the following features: (i) the use of particle IDs to match haloes between snapshots; (ii) the ability to skip at least one, and preferably more, snapshots in order to recover subhaloes that are temporarily lost during merging; (iii) the ability to cope with (and ideally smooth out) large, temporary fluctuations in halo mass. Finally, to enable different groups to communicate effectively, we defined a common terminology that we used when discussing merger trees and we encourage others to adopt the same language. We also specified a minimal output format to record the results.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science