LJMU is part of an international team of astronomers who have carried out the biggest ever computer simulations from the Big Bang to the present day to investigate how the Universe evolved.
The FLAMINGO simulations, reported by the Royal Astronomical Society, calculate the evolution of all the components of the Universe – ordinary matter, like stars and planets, dark matter and dark energy – based on the laws of physics.
It is hoped the simulations will allow researchers to compare the virtual Universe with observations of the real thing being captured by new high-powered telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope. This could help scientists understand if the standard model of cosmology – used to explain the evolution of the Universe – provides an accurate description of reality.
Dr Jaime Salcido Negrete, of LJMU's Astrophysics Research Institute, who worked with Professor Ian McCarthy and Dr Juliana Kwan, said: ““Our simulations enable us to investigate whether new and exciting physics are required to account for the disparities between our theoretical models and the actual Universe.
“Our theories have offered profound insights into a multitude of cosmic phenomena, although perplexing enigmas continue to envelop the fundamental nature of the theory’s primary constituents: dark matter and dark energy.
“In addition to these enduring cosmic mysteries, recent observations have unveiled further tantalizing puzzles. It is as though the well-known rules that governed the early Universe do not entirely align with the cosmos that we observe today.”
The FLAMINGO simulations, carried out on the Cosmology Machine supercomputer at Durham University over the past two years, took more than 50 million processor hours on COSMA 8 and tracked the formation of the Universe’s structure in dark matter, ordinary matter and neutrinos, following the standard model of physics.
The first results showed that the inclusion of ordinary matter and neutrinos in the simulations was essential for making accurate predictions.
FLAMINGO is a collaboration between LJMU, Durham University and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Funding came from the European Research Council, the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the Swiss National Science Foundation.
The flagship paper has been posted on the Arxiv (https://arxiv.org/abs/2306.04024) and is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.