Title: Universe(s) in a Box
Recently it has become possible to numerically simulate large, representative volumes of the Universe. These cosmological (magneto)hydrodynamical simulations solve for the coupled evolution of gas, dark matter, stars, and supermassive black holes interacting via the coupled equations of self-gravity and fluid dynamics, all within the context of an expanding spacetime.
The IllustrisTNG simulations are the current state-of-the-art in this context. They simultaneously resolve tens of thousands, to millions, of individual galaxies – with properties and characteristics in broad agreement with observational data of real galaxy populations. This enables theoretical studies on galaxy formation and evolution, as well as large-scale structure and cosmology. We have also begun to go beyond TNG, with (i) the “Project GIBLE” simulations that resolve the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of galaxies to unprecedented levels, and (ii) the new “TNG-Cluster” simulation of the most massive virialized structures in the Universe: halos with total mass > 10^15 solar masses.
I will give a tour of the IllustrisTNG simulations, showcasing the information content and breadth of a virtual Universe. I will describe the modeling required for these simulations, both numerical and physical, and then touch on some recent scientific insights, from TNG, GIBLE, and TNG-Cluster, focusing on the interplay of galaxy formation, feedback, and the gaseous halos (i.e. CGM) of galaxies.