The star formation main sequence and stellar mass assembly of galaxies in the Illustris simulation

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Sparre, M 
Hayward, CC 
Springel, V 
Vogelsberger, M 
Genel, S 

Understanding the physical processes that drive star formation is a key challenge for galaxy formation models. In this article we study the tight correlation between the star formation rate (SFR) and stellar mass of galaxies at a given redshift, how halo growth influences star formation, and star formation histories of individual galaxies. We study these topics using Illustris, a state-of-the-art cosmological hydrodynamical simulation of galaxy formation. Illustris reproduces the observed relation (the star formation main sequence; SFMS) between SFR and stellar mass at redshifts z=0 and z=4, but at intermediate redshifts of z~2, the simulated SFMS has a significantly lower normalisation than reported by observations. The scatter in the relation is consistent with the observed scatter. However, the fraction of outliers above the SFR-stellar mass relation in Illustris is less than that observed. Galaxies with halo masses of ~10^{12} solar masses dominate the SFR density of the Universe, in agreement with the results of abundance matching. Furthermore, more-massive galaxies tend to form the bulk of their stars at high redshift, which indicates that `downsizing' occurs in Illustris. We also studied the star formation histories of individual galaxies, including the use of a principal component analysis decomposition. We find that for fixed stellar mass, galaxies that form earlier have more-massive black holes at z=0, indicating that star formation and black hole growth are tightly linked processes in Illustris. While many of the properties of normal star-forming galaxies are well-reproduced in the Illustris simulation, forming a realistic population of starbursts will likely require higher resolution and probably a more sophisticated treatment of star formation and feedback from stars and black holes.

methods: numerical, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: starburst, galaxies: star formation, cosmology: theory
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/L000725/1)