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

Pillepich, Annalisa; Nelson, Dylan; Springel, Volker; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Torrey, Paul; Weinberger, Rainer; Vogelsberger, Mark; Marinacci, Federico; Genel, Shy; van der Wel, Arjen; Hernquist, Lars

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× 10^4 M_{\odot } 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 10^{10} (10^8) M_{\odot } 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 H α 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 10^{9-11.5} M_{\odot } 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.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 490, Issue 3, p.3196-3233, December 2019

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