Artificial universe created with supercomputer
Washington: Building a universe from scratch that brims with galaxies resembling those around us is now possible on supercomputers for the first time, according to researchers.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy with a broad disk and outstretched arms, as are many in our cosmic neighbourhood, such as Andromeda, the Pinwheel and the Whirlpool galaxies.
Spiral galaxies are common, but past computer models that aimed to accurately simulate the birth and evolution of the universe over billions of years had trouble creating them.
Instead, they often generated lots of blobby galaxies clumped into balls.
New computer simulations can now recreate the kind of galactic communities seen in our universe, starting with the observed afterglow of the Big Bang and evolving forward in time.
Harvard’s Odyssey supercomputer allowed simulations that compressed nearly 14 billion years into only a few months.
“We’ve created the full variety of galaxies we see in the local universe,” Discovery News quoted study author Mark Vogelsberger at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as saying.
The new software is called Arepo and was created by Volker Springel at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany. Previous simulations divided space into a fixed grid of cubes, with each cube simulating the behaviour of substances within that space.
Arepo uses a grid that can reshape itself, filling itself with tetrahedrons of varying size and shape.
The more substance a region contains, such as gas, stars, dark matter or dark energy, the more tetrahedra Arepo devotes to that region, which enables it to simulate the behaviour and flow of these substances more accurately.
“We took all the advantages of previous codes and removed the disadvantages,” Springel added.
The findings of the study have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.