Science Visualized

Universe re-created in computer simulation

Most detailed model of cosmos reproduces distribution of galaxies

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3:10pm, May 7, 2014

VIRTUAL UNIVERSE  In a snapshot from the Illustris computer simulation of the universe, galaxies (pink) cluster along filaments of dark matter (blue). Shown is the most massive cluster in the simulation, in a volume of space roughly 70 million light-years across horizontally. Gas bubbles (orange) rapidly burst from the centers of galaxies, where supermassive black holes drive intergalactic winds that stir up gas for hundreds of thousands of light-years. 

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“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,” said Carl Sagan, “you must first invent the universe.” A new simulation of the evolution of the universe, called the Illustris Project, is a start. Led by Mark Vogelsberger, an astrophysicist at MIT, Illustris is the most detailed and comprehensive simulation of the universe to date and produces a cosmos that looks similar to today’s.

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