Illustris a bold collaborative project that is producing a cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, using a state of the art numerical code and a comprehensive physical model. It is an outstanding example of how advances in computing power enable groundbreaking new simulations. A paper recently published in Nature,
“Properties of galaxies reproduced by a hydrodynamic simulation” by Vogelsberger et al. describes a simulation that starts 12 million years after the Big Bang, and traces 13 billion years of cosmic evolution with 12 billion resolution elements in a cube of 106.5 megaparsecs on a side. After five years of development, the calculations themselves required 3 months of “run time,” using a total of 8,000 CPUs running in parallel. The simulation reproduces many of the characteristics of matter on the Universe, and you can get a tour of this virtual cosmos here – well worth watching:
Video courtesy of Mark Vogelsberger and the Illustris Collaboration.