FIREbox: simulating galaxies at high dynamic range in a cosmological volume

Robert Feldmann, Eliot Quataert, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Philip F. Hopkins, Onur Çatmabacak, Dušan Kereš, Luigi Bassini, Mauro Bernardini, James S. Bullock, Elia Cenci, Jindra Gensior, Lichen Liang, Jorge Moreno, Andrew Wetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We introduce a suite of cosmological volume simulations to study the evolution of galaxies as part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments project. FIREbox, the principal simulation of the present suite, provides a representative sample of galaxies (∼1000 galaxies with Mstar > 108 M at z = 0) at a resolution ( x ∼ 20 pc, mb ∼ 6 × 104 M ) comparable to state-of-the-art galaxy zoom-in simulations. FIREbox captures the multiphase nature of the interstellar medium in a fully cosmological setting (L = 22.1 Mpc) thanks to its exceptionally high dynamic range (≳106) and the inclusion of multichannel stellar feedback. Here, we focus on validating the simulation predictions by comparing to observational data. We find that star formation rates, gas masses, and metallicities of simulated galaxies with Mstar < 1010.5−11 M broadly agree with observations. These galaxy scaling relations extend to low masses (Mstar ∼ 107 M ) and follow a (broken) power-law relationship. Also reproduced are the evolution of the cosmic HI density and the HI column density distribution at z ∼ 0-5. At low z, FIREbox predicts a peak in the stellar-mass-halo-mass relation but also a higher abundance of massive galaxies and a higher cosmic star formation rate density than observed, showing that stellar feedback alone is insufficient to reproduce the properties of massive galaxies at late times. Given its high resolution and sample size, FIREbox offers a baseline prediction of galaxy formation theory in a ЛCDM Universe while also highlighting modelling challenges to be addressed in next-generation galaxy simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3831-3860
Number of pages30
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: star formation
  • galaxies: stellar content
  • methods: numerical


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