MADRID, 10 Sep. (EUROPA PRESS) –
An international team of researchers has generated the largest and most realistic simulation of the Universe to date and put it available to everyone for free in the cloud.
Uchuu (which means “outer space” in Japanese) consists of 2.1 trillion particles in an unprecedented computational cube of 9.630 million light years on a side.
By comparison, that’s about three-quarters of the distance between Earth and the most distant observed galaxies. Uchuu will allow us to study the evolution of the Universe at a level of both size and detail inconceivable until now.
Uchuu focuses on the large-scale structure of the Universe: mysterious halos of dark matter that control not only the formation of galaxies, but also the fate of the entire Universe. The scale of these structures varies from the largest galaxy clusters to the smallest galaxies. The individual stars and planets are not resolved.
But one way Uchuu wins big compared to other virtual worlds is time mastery; Uchuu simulates the evolution of matter during almost all of the 13.8 billion year history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present. That’s more than 30 times longer than the time since animal life first emerged from Earth’s seas.
Julia F. Ereza, a student at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) who uses Uchuu to study the large-scale structure of the Universe, explained it’s a statement the importance of the new virtual universe: “Uchuu is like a time machine: we can move forward, go back and stop in time, we can get closer to a single galaxy or zoom out to visualize a complete cluster, we can see what is really happening at every moment and in every place in the Universe from its earliest days to the present, being an essential tool to study the Cosmos “.
An international team of researchers from Japan, Spain, the US, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France and Italy created Uchuu using ATERUI II, the world’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to astronomy. Even with all this power, it took a year to produce Uchuu.
Tomoaki Ishiyama, associate professor at Chiba University who developed the code used to generate Uchuu, explains: “To produce Uchuu we have used the 40,200 processors (CPU cores) available exclusively for 48 hours per month. Twenty million hours of supercomputer and 3 Petabytes of data was generated, the equivalent of 894,784,853 images on a 12 megapixel cell phone. “
The research team used high-throughput computational techniques to compress information about the formation and evolution of dark matter halos in the Uchuu simulation into a 100-terabyte catalog. This catalog is now available to everyone in the cloud in an easy-to-use format thanks to the skun6 computational infrastructure located at the Andalusian Astrophysics Institute (IAA-CSIC), the RedIRIS group and the Galician Supercomputing Center (CESGA). Future data releases will include virtual galaxy catalogs and gravitational lens maps.
Uchuu’s Big Data science products will help astronomers learn to interpret Big Data galaxy studies expected in the coming years from facilities like the Subaru Telescope and ESA’s Euclid space mission.
The research has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.