Tech UPTechnologyThis is the most accurate simulation of the universe...

This is the most accurate simulation of the universe to date

An international team of researchers has produced the largest and most accurate computer simulation to date of our local patch of the universe. The project, called SIBELIUS-DARK, covers up to 600 million light-years from Earth and includes more than 130 billion ‘particles’, producing a Petabyte of data, equivalent to 500 billion pages of standard printed text.

This fabulous 3D map was designed to reflect the real-world consequences of the laws of physics acting on dark matter and cosmic gas during the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang. And they reveal to us the correct locations and properties of the local group galaxies , indicating that our understanding of the forces driving the evolution of the universe is correct.

According to the accepted model of cosmology, all astronomical events can be explained by the behavior of dark matter, which condenses into clusters known as haloes. Thus, the Cold Dark Matter (CDM) model paradigm assumes that the accumulation of gases and other materials around these halos leads to the formation of stars and galaxies. In essence, the CDM is a hypothetical dark matter thought to be the “invisible gravitational glue” that holds galaxies together, neither reflecting nor absorbing light.

Simulation has confirmed that this model accurately recreates the area of space surrounding the Milky Way galaxy.

“The simulations simply reveal the consequences of the laws of physics that act on dark matter and cosmic gas throughout the 13.7 billion years that our universe has existed,” says cosmologist Carlos Frenk, co-author of the published work. the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The fact that we have been able to reproduce these familiar structures provides impressive support for the standard model of cold dark matter and tells us that we are on the right track in understanding the evolution of the entire universe.”


How was the simulation created?

The team used supercomputer simulations to recreate the entire evolution of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to the present time, at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, UK. Thanks to the simulation, astronomers will be able to explore our cosmic neighborhood as easily as they can explore the planet Earth.

They fed the complex physical equations underpinning the cold dark matter model into the DiRAC COSmology MAchine (COSMA) supercomputer in Durham, and the machine proceeded to simulate the entire history of a 600-million-light-year patch of sky in our solar system, covering various galaxy clusters including Virgo, Coma and Perseus, our galaxy and Andromeda, the Local Void and the Great Attractor.

“This project is truly innovative. It provides a milestone in our quest to challenge the currently established model of the evolution of our universe. These simulations show that the standard Cold Dark Matter Model can produce all the galaxies we see in our neighborhood. This is a very important test for the model to pass”, clarifies Matthieu Schaller, from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and also a co-author of the study.

According to the SIBELIUS-DARK simulation our local slice of the universe is somewhat anomalous, containing an “insufficient density” of dark matter relative to the cosmic average. However, this revelation does not contradict the CDM model.

This project provides an important bridge between decades of astronomical theory and observations. By simulating our universe, as we see it, we are one step closer to understanding the nature of our cosmos” , concludes Stuart McAlpine, co-author of the work.



Stuart McAlpine, John C Helly, Matthieu Schaller, Till Sawala, Guilhem Lavaux, Jens Jasche, Carlos S Frenk, Adrian Jenkins, John R Lucey, Peter H Johansson SIBELIUS-DARK: a galaxy catalogue of the Local Volume from a constrained realisation simulation

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, stac295,

Published: 08 February 2022

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