London: An international team of astronomers has developed a simulation of the universe in which realistic galaxies are created.
In the simulation, the 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 universe generated by the computer is just like the real thing. There are galaxies everywhere, with all the shapes, sizes and colours I hav seen with the world’s largest telescopes. It is incredible,” said co-author Richard Bower from Durham University.
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 Britain 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 thanks to 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 EAGLE simulation, these galactic winds – which are powered by stars, supernova explosions and supermassive black holes – are stronger than in earlier simulations.
“In the EAGLE universe, I can even press a button to make time run backwards,” Bower added.
Astronomers can now use the results to study the development of galaxies from almost 14 billion years ago until now.
“This is the start of a new era for us. We can now manipulate the conditions of the Universe and study the evolution of galaxies throughout the past 14 billion years,” said co-author Rob Crain from Liverpool John Moores University.
The results are to be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.