First Realistic Simulation of the Formation of the Milky Way


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For almost 20 years astrophysicists have been trying to recreate the formation of spiral galaxies such as our Milky Way realistically. Now astrophysicists from the University of Zurich present the world´s first realistic simulation of the formation of our home galaxy together with astronomers from the University of California at Santa Cruz. The new results were partly calculated on the computer of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS)

This is the Eris Simulation, the first complete and accurate simulation of a spiral galaxy, created by researchers at the University of Zurich using a supercomputer and 20 years of amassed data. The video shows 13.7 billion years of time-lapsed formation, the result of nine months of constant number-crunching. You can see that the Eris Simulation closely mimics the shape of our own Milky Way in this side-by-side comparison of the two, shown here in UV-only with Eris on the left and Milky Way at right.

“The simulation follows the interaction of more than 60 million particles of dark matter and gas,” says  Piero Madau from the University of California in Santa Cruz, leader of the study conducted with  Javiera Guedes from the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Zurich.

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2 Responses to First Realistic Simulation of the Formation of the Milky Way

  1. Actually, that is not a picture of the Milky Way – since in order to take a picture of it, we would need a camera positioned well outside of our galaxy (or a sufficient "mirror", be it natural or artificial) to take a direct picture of it. At best, it's a computer simulation as well.
    I do not know the source of the picture you posted for comparison, so I do not know if it's a simulation or a picture of another (different than our own) spiral galaxy.