Durham University’s simulation will help study development of galaxies

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A team comprising of astronomers from various countries based at Durham University and Leiden University in the Netherlands, has developed a simulation of the universe with realistic galaxies in a bid to study their development from almost 14 years ago till now.

The simulation, developed by the team led by Professor Joop Schaye (Leiden University), comprises of galaxies whose mass; size and age are similar to those of observed galaxies. Their similarity is caused by the simulation of strong galactic winds, gas winds that are blown from galaxies.

The simulations took several months to run at the “Cosmology Machine” in Durham and at “Curie” in Paris, among the largest computers used for scientific research in the U.K. and France, respectively.

The galaxies formed in the EAGLE-simulation (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments) are a much closer reflection of real galaxies because of the strong galactic winds, which blow away the gas supply needed for the formation of stars.

EAGLE’s galaxies are lighter and younger because fewer stars form and they form later. In the simulation these galactic winds, which are powered by stars, supernova explosions and supermassive black holes, are stronger than in earlier simulations.

“The universe generated by the computer is just like the real thing. There are galaxies everywhere, with all the shapes, sizes and colours I’ve seen with the world’s largest telescopes. It is incredible. In the EAGLE universe I can even press a button to make time run backwards,” says co-author Richard Bower from Durham University reads a press release.

The study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.