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Astrophysicists create “Time Machine” Simulations to Observe Ancestor Galaxy Cities


Published on: June 8, 2022,

Astrophysics is a branch of science that uses laws of physics and chemistry to understand Universe. Many processes in astrophysics take a very long time making their evolution tricky to study. For example a star like our sun has a lifespan of about 10 billion years and during that time galaxies evolve.  The light we see the object 10 billion years came to our senses it as it was 10 billion years ago. For the first time researchers have created simulations that directly recreate the full life cycle of some of the largest collection of galaxies observed in the distant universe 11 billion years ago.


Cosmological simulations are crucial to studying how universe became the shape it is today.  A team of researchers led by Kavli Institute for the Physics author Metin Ata and Project Assistant Professor Khee-Gan Lee, were interested in distant galaxies like massive galaxy protoclusters which are ancestors of present day galaxy clusters before they could clump under their own gravity. “We wanted to try developing a full simulation of the real distant universe to see how structures started out and how they ended,” said Ata. Lee said developing the simulation was much like building a time machine because light from the distant universe is only reaching the Earth now, the galaxies telescopes are snap shot 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.


The researcher took snapshots of “young grandparents in the universe and then fast forwarded their age to study how clusters of galaxies would form. The light from galaxies the researcher used traveled a distance of 11 billion light years to reach us. The researchers have full simulation and that’s why prediction is more stable.  Using their simulations the researchers were able to find evidence of three already published galaxy protoclusters as well as they were able to identify five more structures that formed in their simulations. The researchers found a super cluster the largest supercluster known today that is 5000 times the mass of Milky Way and it will collapse into a large 300 million light years filament.


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