Sunday, May 18, 2014

Watch 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in just 3 minutes

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A team of scientists created the most detailed computer simulation of the history of the universe, where in a few minutes it is possible to observe the 13 billion years of evolution of the cosmos.

Called Illustris, the numerical base model covers the 13 billion years of the universe, starting 12 million years after the Big Bang. The simulation was developed by American, German and British investigators of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The model reveals the distribution and composition of various types of galaxies, clouds of explosive gas of the early universe and the mysterious black holes.

The Illustris covers the cosmic evolution in a cube with a side length of 350 million light-years with unprecedented resolution. "So far, no simulation was able to reproduce the universe at scales so big and so small at the same time," says Mark Vogelsberger, astrophysicist who led the creation of the simulation. Previous attempts to represent graphically the universe have been hampered by undeveloped computing techniques and by the complexities of the underlying physics.

As a result, the previous modeling programs were limited in terms of resolution or were forced to focus on small portions of the universe. The team of scientists devoted five years to create the simulation. The calculations required for the modelling took three months to be carried out, using 8,000 computational processing units working in parallel. If they had used a normal computer, the calculations would have taken more than 2,000 years to carry out.

Basically, the simulation works like a time machine, which allows back and forth in time of the universe. It is also possible to stop the simulation and observe the details of a single Galaxy or cluster of galaxies.

The team of researchers condensed the 13 billion-year history of the universe in a short video, where you can see the temperature, the gas density, speed of gases and other aspects of the cosmos.

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