Although the time and distances given in this video are incorrect, according the Alien Interview, the images are magnificent. We are isolated in space from billions of galaxies. However, one of the galaxies out there may have been our home, and could be a future destination. But, first, we must learn to transcend the human condition, and escape from Earth!
The Millennium Simulation used more than 10 billion particles to trace the evolution of the matter distribution in a cubic region of the Universe over 2 billion light-years on a side. It kept busy the principal supercomputer at the Max Planck Society’s Supercomputing Centre in Garching, Germany for more than a month. By applying sophisticated modelling techniques to the 25 Tbytes of stored output, Virgo scientists have been able to recreate evolutionary histories both for the 20 million galaxies which populate this enormous volume and for the supermassive black holes which occasionally power quasars at their hearts.
The movie shows a 3-dimensional visualization of the journey through the simulated universe. On the way, we visit a rich cluster of galaxies and fly around it. During the two minutes of the movie, we travel a distance for which light would need more than 2.4 billion years.
Superclusters – regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies – are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian.
The Millennium Simulation featured in this clip was run in 2005 by the Virgo Consortium, an international group of astrophysicists from Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the United States. A virtual cube of 2 billion light years on a side was “filled” with 10 billion “particles” whose evolution was computed using the physical laws expected to hold in the currently known cosmologies. The initial distribution of matter, that resembled the conditions present when the cosmic microwave background radiation was emitted was allowed to evolve, and the formation of galaxies and black holes in the simulation were recorded. After all the computing work was done (28 days, at a rate of 200 billion calculations per second) 20 million galaxies were formed in the initial space. These galaxies and the dark matter around them formed web-like structures that resemble the shapes observed by the most recent data available in cosmic surveys, such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.