14 billion years of cosmic evolution in just 78 seconds

Feast your eyes on Arepo, a computer simulation capable of modeling the birth and evolution of an entire cosmos. It was designed by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in collaboration with researchers at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, and unlike previous simulators, this one can reproduce the full range of galaxies that we see in our own immediate Universe.

Writes Wired’s Liat Clark:

Unlike previous model simulators, such as the Gadget code, Arepo’s hydrodynamic model replicates the gaseous formations following the Big Bang by using a virtual, flexible grid that has the capacity to move to match the motions of the gas, stars, dark matter and dark energy that make up space — it’s like a virtual model of the cosmic web, able to bend and flex to support the matter and celestial bodies that make up the universe. Old simulators instead used a more regimented, fixed, cubic grid.

"We took all the advantages of previous codes and removed the disadvantages," explained Volker Springel, the astrophysicist who created the software, in a CfA release.

Read more about the simulator at Wired and the the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.