New Simulation of the Evolution of the Universe is the Most Detailed Yet

First Posted: Oct 27, 2015 10:35 AM EDT

Astrophysicists have created a startling new simulation of the evolution of our universe in startling detail. The new simulation is the most comprehensive to date.

About 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang occurred. This marked the beginning of the universe and the creation of matter. Since then, the visible structures of the cosmos have developed: billions of galaxies which bind gas, dust, stars and planets with gravity and host supermassive black holes at their centers. Yet scientists have long wondered how these visible structures formed from the universe's initial conditions.

In order to answer this question, astrophysicists carry out cosmological simulations. In this case, the researchers worked on one as part of the Magneticum Pathfinder project; they performed a new, unique hydrodynamic simulation of the large-scale distribution of the universe's visible matter.

The researchers incorporated a variety of physical processes in the calculations, including the condensation of matter into stars, their further evolution when the surrounding matter is heated by stellar winds and supernova explosions and enriched with chemical elements, and the feedback of supermassive black holes that eject massive amounts of energy into the universe.

This new, comprehensive simulation covers a spatial area of a cube with a box size of 12.5 billion light years. This tremendous large section of the universe was never part of a simulation before; it was divided into a previously unattainable number of 180 billion resolution elements, each representing the detailed properties of the universe and containing about 500 bytes of information.

Now, researchers have created a cosmological simulation in detail with large-scale astronomical surveys.

The findings reveal a bit more about the early universe, and show a bit more about what might have happened in startling detail.

The findings are published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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