The EAGLE simulations:
Evolution & Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments

News: EAGLE wins Research Project of the Year at the Educate North awards, and is runner-up in the same category at the Times Higher Education awards.


Project description (or jump to publications)

The EAGLE project is a campaign of large-scale hydrodynamical simulations of the Lambda-Cold Dark Matter universe, run by the Virgo Consortium. They are unique in being the only hydrodynamical simulations to reproduce the observed properties of the evolving galaxy population, in particular their stellar masses and sizes, a success that has led to a remarkable scientific impact. The first reference paper of the EAGLE simulations was the most-cited astrophysics publication (out of over 23,000) of 2015.

The largest of the EAGLE simulations contains 6.8 billion particles and ran for nearly 6 weeks on one of Europe’s largest supercomputers, filling 32 TB of RAM and producing 500 TB of data – roughly five thousand times the size of the English language Wikipedia. The project was enabled by access to world-leading supercomputing facilities via the DiRAC and PRACE networks. PRACE highlighted EAGLE as one of its major recent successes, and an interview with Joop Schaye and I is featured in their 2014 annual report.

Setting aside the memory requirement, if run on a home computer the simulation would need 500 years to complete – meaning it would have been necessary to start it during the reign of Henry VIII to have it finished by the present day. If Sir Isaac Newton (a fellow Lincolnshire astronomer!) had a modern personal computer and started the simulation in 1678 upon his publication of the universal theory of gravitation – which the simulation relies upon – it would only be 65% complete by now, corresponding to a redshift of z~0.45!

The chief aim of the project is to examine the formation of galaxies and their co-evolution with their gaseous environments. Unlike most scientists, astronomers cannot conduct experiments in a laboratory, so we require the next best thing – a fake Universe upon which we can conduct numerical experiments. For the first time, EAGLE gives astronomers a realistic laboratory in which to experiment: we can now manipulate the conditions of the Universe and so understand how astrophysical processes influence the characteristics of galaxies, we can go back and forth in time to witness the formation of galaxies like the Milky Way.

The core EAGLE team is:

Reference articles | Database description | Methods articles | Analysis papers | Database articles

For a guaranteed list of up-to-date EAGLE publications, it’s best to check with the ADS, but I provide here a list of the reference and methods papers.

Reference papers (please cite both if referring to the project):

[table id=reference-eagle /]

The public release and database description:

The halo and galaxy catalogues, plus other data products, are available for public download via the same SQL web interface as used by the Millennium Simulation. To access the data, please register as a user.

[table id=database-eagle /]

Methods papers

[table id=methods-eagle /]

Analysis papers

The following are papers written in collaboration with the EAGLE team under the EAGLE publication policy.
[table id=analysis-eagle /]

Public database papers

The following are papers written by the wider astronomy community (occasionally including EAGLE team members), using data made publicly available by the EAGLE team via the Virgo Consortium’s SQL database. This list may well be incomplete, as it’s difficult to keep track of all such publications.
[table id=10 /]


The EAGLE project was made possible by the support of the following organisations:

Leiden University Durham University Virgo ERC