Named “Illustris: The Next Generation” or Illustris TNG for short, it is the most detailed model of our universe ever created.
This impressive simulation shows 13 billion years of evolution, and scientists say it could help unlock the secrets of the cosmos.
Mapping out the ways galaxies evolve in the simulation offers a glimpse of what our own Milky Way galaxy might have been like when the Earth formed and how our galaxy could change in the future, say, scientists.
Based on the basic laws of physics, the stunning simulation shows how our cosmos evolved from the Big Bang and includes some of the physical processes that played a crucial role in the evolution.
The first results of the IllustrisTNG project have been published in three different papers published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The findings, say, experts, should help answer fundamental questions in cosmology.
IllustrisTNG is not the first simulation created by experts. In fact, it is a successor model to the original Illustris simulation developed by the same research team. However, IllustrisTNG has been updated to include many of the physical processes that play crucial roles in the formation and evolution of galaxies.
To create the simulation, experts used evidence of the earliest days of our universe, gather from the Cosmic Microwave Background, leftover from he Big Bang. With this data, scientists managed to model the conditions o the time when our uiverse was a mere few hundred years old.
Researchers then added baryonic matter, which forms stars and planets; they included dark matter, which is believed to enable galactic structures to grow; and finally dark energy, the mysterious force behind all cosmic acceleration.
All of these elements are then coded into the simulation together with equations that describe supernova explosions and black holes.
Dr. Shy Genel, of the Flatiron Institute’s Centre for Computational Astrophysics, said: “When we observe galaxies using a telescope, we can only measure certain quantities.”
“With the simulation, we can track all the properties for all these galaxies. And not just how the galaxy looks now, but its entire formation history,” Dr. Genel added.
At their points of intersection, the cosmic network of gas and dark matter predicted by IllustrisTNG harbor galaxies quite similar to the shape and size of real galaxies.
For the first time, the simulations allow us to directly calculate the detailed pattern of galaxy clusters in space.
The new simulation predicts how our cosmic web is altered over time, especially in relation to the dark matter that underlies the cosmos.
Volker Springel, of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, and one of the experts that developed and programmed the simulation said:
“It is particularly fascinating that we can accurately predict the influence of supermassive black holes on the distribution of matter out to large scales,” says Springel.
“This is crucial for reliably interpreting forthcoming cosmological measurements.”
Reference: Science Daily