Milky Way’s History To Be Uncovered With Largest-Ever Galaxy Simulation

First Posted: May 25, 2017 06:08 AM EDT

Scientists in Germany have used numerous supercomputers to run high-resolution and largest-ever galaxy simulations to uncover details about the Milky Way’s formation and evolution. The simulations were made with the help of the most comprehensive physics models that have been coded to date.

According to UPI, the research called the Auriga Project was led by Dr. Robert J. Grand of the Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien. The scientists used a state-of-the-art code and the Hornet and SuperMUC supercomputers in Germany to run 30 simulations at high resolution, including six at very high resolution, for several months.

The simulations took into account the full scope of cosmic phenomena that included supernova explosions, gas hydrodynamics, star formation and gravity. Interstellar magnetic fields were also incorporated in the models.The simulations also allowed black holes to grow and pull in mass.

Although scientists have a good understanding of spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, they are less clear about the birth and evolution of such galaxies or how they become spiral in shape. Incidentally, the Milky Way has a central bulge where aging stars surround a massive black hole. The arms of the galaxy home to newer stars spread outward from the center. There are between 100 and 400 billion stars in the galaxy, apart from billions of tons of dust and gas.

"The outcome of the Auriga Project is that astronomers will now be able to use our work to access a wealth of information, such as the properties of the satellite galaxies and the very old stars found in the halo that surrounds the galaxy," researcher Dr. Grand said in a news release.

The new models helped reveal that a regular influx of new material from smaller satellite galaxies helps a spiral galaxy to grow. The simulation, backed with observations from space observatories and telescopes, could throw more light on the nature of galactic collisions and growth.

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