Friday, November 5, 2021

g-f(2)632 THE BIG PICTURE OF THE DIGITAL AGE (11/5/2021), MIT News, Mark Vogelsberger: Simulating galaxy formation for clues to the universe

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"g-f" fishing of golden knowledge (GK) of the fabulous treasure of the digital ageDigital Transformation, “Everything evolves” (11/5/2021)  g-f(2)426 


“Everything evolves”

  • At MIT, Associate Professor Mark Vogelsberger has continued to refine computer simulations for both galaxy formation and dark matter distribution. Recently, his group released Illustris TNG, a larger and more detailed simulation of galaxy formation. They are also working on a new simulation of radiation fields in the early universe, as well as exploring different models for dark matter.
  • “All these simulations start with a uniform universe — nothing but helium, hydrogen, and dark matter,” Vogelsberger says. “And when I watch how everything evolves to resemble something like our universe, it makes me wonder at how far we have gotten with our understanding of physics. Humankind has been around for a short period; nevertheless, we’ve been able to develop all these theories and technologies to be able to do something like this. It’s pretty amazing.”

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          Extra-condensed knowledge

          Lessons learned, MIT News

          • For all its brilliant complexity, the Milky Way is rather unremarkable as galaxies go. At least, that’s how Mark Vogelsberger sees it.
          • “Our galaxy has a couple features that might be a bit surprising, like the exact number of structures and satellites around it,” Vogelsberger muses. “But if you average over a lot of metrics, the Milky Way is actually a rather normal place.”
          • He should know. Vogelsberger, a newly tenured associate professor in MIT’s Department of Physics, has spent much of his career recreating the birth and evolution of hundreds of thousands of galaxies, starting from the very earliest moments of the universe on up to the present day. By harnessing the power of supercomputers all over the world, he has produced some of the most precise  theoretical models of galaxy formation, in mesmerizing detail.
          • His simulations of the universe have shown that galaxies can evolve into a menagerie of shapes, sizes, colors, and clusters, exhibiting a clear diversity in the galaxy population, which matches with what astronomers have observed in the actual universe. 

              Condensed knowledge

              Mark Vogelsberger, MIT News

                  • Vogelsberger grew up in Hackenheim, a small village of about 2,000 residents in western Germany, where nearly every night was a perfect night for stargazing.
                  • “There was very little light pollution, and there was literally a perfect sky,” he recalls.
                  • When he was 10, Vogelsberger’s parents gave him a children’s book that included facts about the solar system, which he credits with sparking his early interest in astronomy. As a teenager, he and a friend set up a makeshift astronomy laboratory and taught themselves how to set up telescopes and build various instruments, one of which they designed to measure the magnetic field of different regions of the sun.
                  • Germany’s university programs offered no astronomy degrees at the time, so he decided to pursue a diploma in computer science, an interest that he had developed in parallel with astronomy.
                  • He then headed to the University of Munich, where he learned to apply computer science techniques to questions of astronomy and astrophysics. His PhD work there, and at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, involved simulating the detailed structure of dark matter and how it’s distributed at small scales across the universe.
                  • The numerical simulations that he helped to develop showed that, at small scales comparable to the size of the Earth, dark matter can clump and move through the universe in “streams,” which the researchers were able to quantify for the first time through their simulations.
                  • In 2010, after earning a PhD in physics, Vogelsberger headed to Harvard University for a postdoc at the Center for Astrophysics. There, he redirected his research to visible matter, and to simulating the formation of galaxies through the universe.
                  • He spent the bulk of his postdoc building what would eventually be Illustris — a highly detailed and realistic computer simulation of galaxy formation. The simulation starts by modeling the conditions of the early universe, around 400,000 years after the Big Bang. From there, Illustris simulates the expanding universe over its 13.8-billion-year evolution, exploring the ways in which gas and matter gravitate and condense to form stars, black holes, and galaxies.
                  • Mark Vogelsberger wins 2020 Buchalter Cosmology Prize for simulating a “fuzzy” universe

                                        OPPORTUNITY, Illustris Project

                                        • The Illustris project is a large cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, completed in late 2013, using a state of the art numerical code and a comprehensive physical model. Building on several years of effort by members of the collaboration, the Illustris simulation represents an unprecedented combination of high resolution, total volume, and physical fidelity. The About page contains detailed descriptions of the project, for both the general public and researchers in the field.
                                        • On this website we present the scientific motivation behind the project, a list of the collaboration members, key results and references, movies and images created from the simulation data, information on public data access, and tools for interactive data exploration. The short video below is a compilation made from some of the movies available on the Media page, where many additional visualizations are available.

                                        OPPORTUNITY, IllustrisTNG Project

                                        • The IllustrisTNG project is an ongoing series of large, cosmological magnetohydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation. TNG aims to illuminate the physical processes that drive galaxy formation: to understand when and how galaxies evolve into the structures that are observed in the night sky, and to make predictions for current and future observational programs. The simulations use a state of the art numerical code which includes a comprehensive physical model and runs on some of the largest supercomputers in the world. TNG is a successor to the original Illustris simulation and builds on several years of effort by many people. The project description page contains an introduction to the motivations, techniques, and early science results of the TNG simulations. The project includes three primary runs spanning a range of volume and resolution; these are called TNG50, TNG100, and TNG300.

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