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Scientists conjure up largest virtual universe

Context

Scientists have created the largest-ever virtual universe that simulates the formation galaxies and may hold clues to the nature of the elusive dark matter that is believed to make up majority of the cosmos.

Details

  • The gigantic catalogue of about 25 billion virtual galaxies generated from 2 trillion digital particles using a super computer is being used to calibrate the experiments on board the Euclid satellite, that will be launched in 2020.
  • The satellite will investigate the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Dark Matter

The computer code that took three years to complete was executed on the world-leading machine for only 80 hours, and generated a virtual universe of two trillion macro-particles representing the dark matter fluid, from which a catalogue of 25 billion virtual galaxies was extracted, researchers said.

  • About 95 per cent of the universe is dark. The cosmos consists of 23 per cent of dark matter and 72 per cent of dark energy.

Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter distinct from baryonic matter (ordinary matter such as protons and neutrons), neutrinos and dark energy.

Dark Energy

In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

Dark matter versus dark energy

  • Although dark matter makes up most of the matter of the universe, it only makes up about a quarter of the composition. The universe is dominated by dark energy.
  • After the Big Bang, the universe began expanding outward.
  • Scientists once thought that it would eventually run out of the energy, slowing down as gravity pulled the objects inside it together.
  • But studies of distant supernovae revealed that the universe today is expanding faster than it was in the past, not slower, indicating that the expansion is accelerating.
  • This would only be possible if the universe contained enough energy to overcome gravity – dark energy.
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