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Journal Article

First results from the TNG50 simulation: the evolution of stellar and gaseous discs across cosmic time


Nelson,  Dylan
Galaxy Formation, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;


Springel,  Volker
Computational Structure Formation, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;


Pakmor,  Rüdiger
Stellar Astrophysics, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Pillepich, A., Nelson, D., Springel, V., Pakmor, R., Torrey, P., Weinberger, R., et al. (2019). First results from the TNG50 simulation: the evolution of stellar and gaseous discs across cosmic time. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 490(3), 3196-3233. doi:10.1093/mnras/stz2338.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-B653-0
We present a new cosmological, magnetohydrodynamical simulation for galaxy formation: TNG50, the third and final instalment of the IllustrisTNG project. TNG50 evolves 2 × 21603 dark matter particles and gas cells in a volume 50 comoving Mpc across. It hence reaches a numerical resolution typical of zoom-in simulations, with a baryonic element mass of 8.5×104M and an average cell size of 70–140 pc in the star-forming regions of galaxies. Simultaneously, TNG50 samples ∼700 (6500) galaxies with stellar masses above 1010(108)M at z = 1. Here we investigate the structural and kinematical evolution of star-forming galaxies across cosmic time (0 ≲ z ≲ 6). We quantify their sizes, disc heights, 3D shapes, and degree of rotational versus dispersion-supported motions as traced by rest-frame V-band light (i.e. roughly stellar mass) and by Hα light (i.e. star-forming and dense gas). The unprecedented resolution of TNG50 enables us to model galaxies with sub-kpc half-light radii and with ≲300-pc disc heights. Coupled with the large-volume statistics, we characterize a diverse, redshift- and mass-dependent structural and kinematical morphological mix of galaxies all the way to early epochs. Our model predicts that for star-forming galaxies the fraction of disc-like morphologies, based on 3D stellar shapes, increases with both cosmic time and galaxy stellar mass. Gas kinematics reveal that the vast majority of 109−11.5M star-forming galaxies are rotationally supported discs for most cosmic epochs (Vrot/σ > 2–3, z ≲ 5), being dynamically hotter at earlier epochs (⁠z ≳ 1.5). Despite large velocity dispersion at high redshift, cold and dense gas in galaxies predominantly arranges in disky or elongated shapes at all times and masses; these gaseous components exhibit rotationally dominated motions far exceeding the collisionless stellar bodies.