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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Simulating galaxy formation

One of the ways to know whether your mathematical models of cosmology are correct is to run simulations and see whether they align with the observable universe.  A team of researchers from the University of Zurich (Lucio Mayer) and from the University of California at Santa Cruz (Javiera Guedes, Simone Callegari and Piero Madau) has done just that.  The results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

You can watch the simulation below.

When creating a mathematical model, it’s not only important that the simulation be internally consistent, but also that it match reality.  You can judge for yourself whether the astronomers have achieved that goal.


Left: an image of our simulated galaxy, with gas in red and stars in blue.
Right: a picture in false colors of the galaxy M74, again with gas shown in red and stars in blue. The spiral arms of the gas are evident in both images.
Credit: UZH