Resolved galaxy scaling relations in the EAGLE simulation: Star formation, metallicity, and stellar mass on KPC scales

James W. Trayford, Joop Schaye

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We explore scaling relations between the physical properties of spatially resolved regions within the galaxies that emerge in the Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments (EAGLE) hydrodynamical, cosmological simulations. Using 1 kpc-scale spaxels, we compute the relationships between the star formation rate and stellar mass surface densities, i.e. the spatially resolved star-forming main sequence (rSFMS), and between the gas metallicity and the stellar mass surface density, i.e. the spatially resolved mass-metallicity relation (rMZR). We compare these with observed relations derived from integral field unit surveys and galaxy imaging. EAGLE reproduces the slope of the local (z ≈ 0.1) rSFMS well, but with a ≈− 0.15 dex offset, close to that found for the galaxy-integrated relation. The shape of the rMZR agrees reasonably well with observations, replicating the characteristic turnover at high surface density, which we show is due to AGN feedback. The residuals of the rSFMS and rMZR are negatively (positively) correlated at low (high) surface density. The rSFMS becomes shallower as the simulation evolves from z = 2 to 0.1, a manifestation of inside-out galaxy formation. The shape of the rMZR also exhibits dramatic evolution, from a convex profile at z = 2 to the observed concave profile at z = 0.1, such that the gas in regions of high stellar density is more enriched at higher redshift. The redshift independence of the relationship between the galaxy-wide gas fraction and metallicity in EAGLE galaxies is not preserved on 1 kpc scales, implying that chemical evolution is non-local due to the transport of gas and metals within galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5715-5732
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date16 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: structure
  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/K00042X/1
  • ST/H008519/1
  • ST/K003267/1


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