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  1. Abstract We present the empirical dust attenuation (EDA) framework—a flexible prescription for assigning realistic dust attenuation to simulated galaxies based on their physical properties. We use the EDA to forward model synthetic observations for three state-of-the-art large-scale cosmological hydrodynamical simulations: SIMBA, IllustrisTNG, and EAGLE. We then compare the optical and UV color–magnitude relations, ( g − r ) − M r and (far-UV −near-UV) − M r , of the simulations to a M r < − 20 and UV complete Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxy sample using likelihood-free inference. Without dust, none of the simulations match observations, as expected. With the EDA, however, we can reproduce the observed color–magnitude with all three simulations. Furthermore, the attenuation curves predicted by our dust prescription are in good agreement with the observed attenuation–slope relations and attenuation curves of star-forming galaxies. However, the EDA does not predict star-forming galaxies with low A V since simulated star-forming galaxies are intrinsically much brighter than observations. Additionally, the EDA provides, for the first time, predictions on the attenuation curves of quiescent galaxies, which are challenging to measure observationally. Simulated quiescent galaxies require shallower attenuation curves with lower amplitude than star-forming galaxies. The EDA, combined with forwardmore »modeling, provides an effective approach for shedding light on dust in galaxies and probing hydrodynamical simulations. This work also illustrates a major limitation in comparing galaxy formation models: by adjusting dust attenuation, simulations that predict significantly different galaxy populations can reproduce the same UV and optical observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to observe galaxies at z > 10 that are presently inaccessible. Here, we use a self-consistent empirical model, the universemachine, to generate mock galaxy catalogues and light-cones over the redshift range z = 0−15. These data include realistic galaxy properties (stellar masses, star formation rates, and UV luminosities), galaxy–halo relationships, and galaxy–galaxy clustering. Mock observables are also provided for different model parameters spanning observational uncertainties at z < 10. We predict that Cycle 1 JWST surveys will very likely detect galaxies with M* > 107 M⊙ and/or M1500 < −17 out to at least z ∼ 13.5. Number density uncertainties at z > 12 expand dramatically, so efforts to detect z > 12 galaxies will provide the most valuable constraints on galaxy formation models. The faint-end slopes of the stellar mass/luminosity functions at a given mass/luminosity threshold steepen as redshift increases. This is because observable galaxies are hosted by haloes in the exponentially falling regime of the halo mass function at high redshifts. Hence, these faint-end slopes are robustly predicted to become shallower below current observable limits (M* < 107 M⊙ or M1500 > −17). For reionization models, extrapolating luminosity functions with amore »constant faint-end slope from M1500 = −17 down to M1500 = −12 gives the most reasonable upper limit for the total UV luminosity and cosmic star formation rate up to z ∼ 12. We compare to three other empirical models and one semi-analytic model, showing that the range of predicted observables from our approach encompasses predictions from other techniques. Public catalogues and light-cones for common fields are available online.« less