Scientists create "time machine" simulations that study the life cycle of ancestral galaxy cities (w / video)

Scientists create “time machine” simulations that study the life cycle of ancestral galaxy cities (w / video)

June 6, 2022

(Nanowerk News) For the first time, scientists have created simulations that directly recreate the entire life cycle of some of the largest collections of galaxies observed in the distant universe 11 billion years ago, reports a new study in Nature astronomy (“Predicted future fate of COSMOS galaxy protocols over 11 Gyr with limited simulations”).

Cosmological simulations are crucial for studying how the universe became the form it is today, but many do not usually agree with what astronomers observe through telescopes. Most are designed to match the real universe only in a statistical sense. Limited cosmological simulations, on the other hand, are designed to directly reproduce the structures we actually observe in the universe. Most existing simulations of this kind have, however, been applied to our local universe, ie near the earth, but never to observations of the distant universe.

A team of researchers, led by the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe Project Researcher and first author Metin Ata and Project Assistant Professor Khee-Gan Lee, were interested in distant structures such as massive galaxy protocols, which are the ancestors of today’s galaxy clusters. could clump together under its own gravity. They found that current studies of remote protocols were sometimes too simplistic, which means that they were done with simple models and not simulations.

“We wanted to try to develop a complete simulation of the real distant universe to see how structures began and how they ended,” said Ata.

Their result was COSTCO (Constrained Simulations of The COsmos Field). distribution of matter in the observed galaxy Screenshots from the simulation show the (top) distribution of matter corresponding to the observed galaxy distribution at a light migration period of 11 billion years (when the universe was only 2.76 billion years old or 20% of its current age), and (bottom) distribution of matter in the same region after 11 billion light-years or the equivalent of our current time. (Image: Ata et al.)

Lee said that the development of the simulation was much like building a time machine. Because light from the distant universe only reaches the earth now, the galaxies that the telescope observes today are a snapshot of the past.

“It’s like finding an old black and white picture of your grandfather and creating a video of his life,” he said.

In this way, the researchers took snapshots of “young” grandparent galaxies in the universe and then scrolled down their age to study how galaxy clusters would form.

The light from galaxies used by scientists traveled a distance of 11 billion light-years to reach us.

What was most challenging was to take into account the large-scale environment.

“This is something that is very important for the fate of these structures, regardless of whether they are isolated or associated with a larger structure. If you do not take the environment into account, you get completely different answers. We could consistently take into account the large-scale environment, because we has a complete simulation, which is why our prediction is more stable, says Ata.

Another important reason why scientists created these simulations was to test the standard model of cosmology, which is used to describe the physics of the universe. By predicting the final mass and the final distribution of structures in a given space, scientists were able to reveal previously undiscovered deviations in our current understanding of the universe.

Using their simulations, the researchers were able to find evidence of three already published galaxy protocols and disadvantage a structure. In addition, they were able to identify five additional structures that were consistently formed in their simulations. This includes the Hyperion proto-supercluster, the largest and earliest proto-cluster known today and 5,000 times the mass of our Milky Way galaxy, which scientists discovered will collapse into a large 300 million light-year filament.

Their work is already being applied to other projects, including those to study the cosmological environment of galaxies, and absorption lines for distant quasars to name a few.

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