Millennium Simulation Visualizations

9. November 2014

The cold dark matter model has become the leading theoretical paradigm for the formation of structure in the Universe. Together with the theory of cosmic inflation, this model makes a clear prediction for the initial conditions for structure formation and predicts that structures grow hierarchically through gravitational instability. Testing this model requires that the precise measurements delivered by galaxy surveys can be compared to robust and equally precise theoretical calculations. In the Millennium Simulation project, the Virgo Consortium has presented a novel framework for the quantitative physical interpretation of such surveys. This combines the largest simulation of the growth of dark matter structure carried out up to that time with new techniques for following the formation and evolution of the visible components. In particular, we have shown that baryon-induced features in the initial conditions of the Universe are reflected in distorted form in the low-redshift galaxy distribution, an effect that can be used to constrain the nature of dark energy with next generation surveys.

The Millennium Simulation has also been used to create a number of visualizations of the predicted dark matter structure and the galaxy distribution on large scales, some of them are reproduced on this page. Credit for the visualizations below should be given to V. Springel and the publication:

  • Simulations of the formation, evolution and clustering of galaxies and quasars
    Springel V., White S. D. M., Jenkins A., Frenk C. S., Yoshida N., Gao L., Navarro J., Thacker R., Croton D., Helly J., Peacock J. A., Cole S., et al. (2005)
    Nature, 435, 629 [ADS]
A 3-dimensional visualization of the Millennium Simulation. The movie shows a journey through the simulated universe. On the way, we visit a rich cluster of galaxies and fly around it. During the two minutes of the movie, we travel a distance for which light would need more than 2.4 billion years.

MPEG4, 166 MB, 1920×1080 pixel

This movie shows the dark matter distribution in the universe at the present time, based on the Millennium Simulation, the largest N-body simulation carried out thus far (more than 1010 particles). By zooming in on a massive cluster of galaxies, the movie highlights the morphology of the structure on different scales, and the large dynamic range of the simulation (105 per dimension in 3D). The zoom extends from scales of several Gpc down to resolved substructures as small as ~10 kpc.

divx5, 118 MB, 1024×768 pixel, no annotation

About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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