Astronomers create “time machine” simulations to monitor the life cycle of ancestral galaxy cities

Scientists are developing “time machine” simulations that study the life cycle of ancestral galaxies.

Many processes in astrophysics take a very long time, making it tricky to study their evolution. For example, the lifespan of a star like our Sun is about 10 billion years and galaxies form in billions of years.

One way astronomers deal with this is to compare different objects at different stages of evolution. Because of the length of time light travels to reach our telescopes, they can see distant objects. For example, if we look at an object 10 billion light years away, we see it as it was 10 billion years ago.

Now, for the first time, researchers have created simulations that directly recreate the entire life cycle of some of the largest galaxies found in the distant universe 11 billion years ago, according to a new study published in the journal June 2, 2022. Natural astronomy.

Cosmological simulations are important today in studying how the universe took shape, but many astronomers do not generally fit what they observe with telescopes. Most are designed to fit the real universe only in a statistical sense. Restricted cosmological simulations, on the other hand, are designed to directly recreate the structures we actually observe in the universe. However, most simulations of this type have been applied to our local universe, i.e. close to Earth, but never used for observations of distant universes.

A team of researchers led by Medin Atta, project researcher and first author at the Cowley Institute for Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, and project assistant professor Kee-Kan Lee, were interested in distant structures such as the massive galaxy protoclusters that are the ancestors of today. Before galaxies accumulate under their own gravitational pull. They found that current studies of distant protoclusters were sometimes exaggerated, i.e. they were not done with simple models and simulations.

Time machine simulation screenshots

Screenshots of the simulation (top) Distribution of an object similar to the galaxy observation observed during light travel of 11 billion years (when the universe was 2.76 billion years or 20% of its current age), and (below) 11 billion light years after or just the distribution of matter in the same region . Credit: Atta et al.

“We want to try to create a complete simulation of the real distant universe, to see how the structures started and how they ended,” Atta said.

Their result is COSTCO (Restricted Simulation of the Cosmos Field).

Creating simulation is like building a time machine, Lee said. As the light of the distant universe reaches Earth now, telescopes of galaxies are a snapshot of the past.

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

In this sense, the researchers took snapshots of the “young” grandparents’ galaxies in the universe and then sent their age fast to study how clusters of galaxies formed.

The light from the galaxy used by researchers traveled 11 billion light-years to reach us.

It is very challenging to take into account the large scale environment.

“Whether those structures are isolated or associated with a larger structure is very important to their fate. If you do not take the environment into account, you will get completely different responses. Atta said.

Another important reason for researchers to create these simulations is to test the cosmological static model used to describe the physics of the universe. By predicting the final mass and final distribution of structures in a given space, researchers can reveal previously undiscovered contradictions in our current understanding of the universe.

Using their simulations, the researchers were able to find evidence of three galaxy protoclusters already published and refute a structure. On top of that, they were able to identify five more structures that are constantly evolving in their simulations. This includes the Hyperion proto-supercluster, the largest and earliest known proto-supercluster known today, at 5000 times our own weight.[{” attribute=””>Milky Way galaxy, which the researchers found out it 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 of distant quasars to name a few.

Details of their study were published in Nature Astronomy on June 2.

Reference: “Predicted future fate of COSMOS galaxy protoclusters over 11 Gyr with constrained simulations” by Metin Ata, Khee-Gan Lee, Claudio Dalla Vecchia, Francisco-Shu Kitaura, Olga Cucciati, Brian C. Lemaux, Daichi Kashino and Thomas Müller, 2 June 2022, Nature Astronomy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01693-0

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