A study published in the journal ‘Nature’ reports that astronomers from MIT/Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies have created the first realistic and virtual model of the Universe using a complex simulation on the computer. Simulations of the Universe have been tried earlier, but none match the precision and complexity of the current research.
The feat was made possible by designing a sophisticated computer program called the “Illustris” that recreated the evolution of the Universe in high fidelity. It includes both, the normal as well as dark matter using 12 billion 3D pixels or resolution elements. The program calculated the entire Universe’s expanse in 3 months by using a total of 8,000 CPUs. A normal desktop PC would calculate the same in more than 2,000 years.
The Illustris simulated the Universe merely 12 million years after the Big Bang. Till it reached the present day, astronomers counted more than 41,000 galaxies in the cube of simulated space. The simulation yielded a realistic mix of the spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way and football–shaped elliptical galaxies. Large–scale structures such as galaxy clusters and bubbles and voids of the cosmic web, along with the small–scale elements were accurately recreated by the simulation. According to the scientists, Illustris is like a time machine that can show us the Universe during the time of its existence to how it appears in the present day and help us learn what is going on in a single galaxy or cluster. The team however, took five years to design the Illustris.