Japanese Supercomputer Simulates the Universe 4000 Ways

Research could lead to a deeper understanding of cosmic inflation.

Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan have used the ATERUI II supercomputer to model 4000 scenarios for the evolution of the universe. The goal is to build a better understanding of the little-understood cosmic inflation model by removing gravitational effects.

According to a report by the Center for Computational Astrophysics, “Just after the universe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago, it suddenly increased more than 1 trillion trillion times in size in less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a microsecond, but no one knows how or why. This sudden inflation is one of the most important mysteries in modern astronomy. Inflation should have created primordial density fluctuations that would have affected the distribution of galaxy development. Thus, mapping the distribution of galaxies can rule out models for inflation that don't match the observed data. However, processes other than inflation also impact galaxy distribution, making it difficult to derive information about inflation directly from observations of the large-scale structure of the universe, the cosmic web comprising countless galaxies. In particular, the gravitationally driven growth of groups of galaxies can obscure the primordial density fluctuations.”

The researchers simulated these gravitational effects 4000 different ways to see which method provided the best approximation for the distribution of galaxies in the known universe.