Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using an isolated Milky Way-mass galaxy simulation, we compare results from nine state-of-the-art gravito-hydrodynamics codes widely used in the numerical community. We utilize the infrastructure we have built for the AGORA High-resolution Galaxy Simulations Comparison Project. This includes the common disk initial conditions, common physics models (e.g., radiative cooling and UV background by the standardized package Grackle) and common analysis toolkit yt, all of which are publicly available. Subgrid physics models such as Jeans pressure floor, star formation, supernova feedback energy, and metal production are carefully constrained across code platforms. With numerical accuracy that resolves the disk scale height, we find that the codes overall agree well with one another in many dimensions including: gas and stellar surface densities, rotation curves, velocity dispersions, density and temperature distribution functions, disk vertical heights, stellar clumps, star formation rates, and Kennicutt-Schmidt relations. Quantities such as velocity dispersions are very robust (agreement within a few tens of percent at all radii) while measures like newly formed stellar clump mass functions show more significant variation (difference by up to a factor of ∼3). Systematic differences exist, for example, between mesh-based and particle-based codes in the low-density region, and between more diffusive and less diffusive schemes in the high-density tail of the density distribution. Yet intrinsic code differences are generally small compared to the variations in numerical implementations of the common subgrid physics such as supernova feedback. Our experiment reassures that, if adequately designed in accordance with our proposed common parameters, results of a modern high-resolution galaxy formation simulation are more sensitive to input physics than to intrinsic differences in numerical schemes.


  • Ji Hoon Kim
  • Romain Teyssier
  • Michael J. Butler
  • Daniel Ceverino
  • Jun Hwan Choi
  • Robert Feldmann
  • Ben W. Keller
  • Alessandro Lupi
  • Thomas Quinn
  • Yves Revaz
  • Spencer Wallace
  • Nickolay Y. Gnedin
  • Samuel N. Leitner
  • Sijing Shen
  • Britton D. Smith
  • Robert Thompson
  • Matthew J. Turk
  • Tom Abel
  • Kenza S. Arraki
  • Samantha M. Benincasa
  • Sukanya Chakrabarti
  • Colin Degraf
  • Avishai Dekel
  • Nathan J. Goldbaum
  • Philip F. Hopkins
  • Cameron B. Hummels
  • Anatoly Klypin
  • Hui Li
  • Piero Madau
  • Nir Mandelker
  • Lucio Mayer
  • Kentaro Nagamine
  • Sarah Nickerson
  • Brian W. O'Shea
  • Joel R. Primack
  • Santi Roca-Fàbrega
  • Vadim Semenov
  • Ikkoh Shimizu
  • Christine M. Simpson
  • Keita Todoroki
  • James W. Wadsley
  • John H. Wise
External organisations
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Michigan
  • Yale University
  • Michigan State University
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
  • Stanford University
  • Heidelberg University
  • University of Texas
  • McMaster University
  • Pierre and Marie Curie University
  • University of Washington
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  • New Mexico State University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of Nevada, Reno
  • Osaka University
  • Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Zurich
  • University of Chicago
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: kinematics and dynamics, ISM: structure, methods: numerical, theory
Original languageEnglish
Article number202
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 20
Publication categoryResearch