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May 19, 2005

Large structure formation in the universe

Gas dynamics simulations and visualization of large structure formation in the universe. Gravitational collapse of initially small amplitude density fluctuations of "dark matter" is thought to have led to the formation of the large-scale structure seen in the universe today. The simulation visualized here is embedded in a cube 64 megaparsecs (209 million light years) on a side at present, and models dark matter and gaseous components. The large structure in the center is the massive central galaxy cluster Santa Barbara, which could contain on the order of 1,000 galaxies. Translucent isocontours trace gas density, increasing in magnitude from blue to yellow. Spheres represent a sampling of the simulated gas particles; the larger and bluer the spheres, the lower the density of the gas particles. Black line segments show the direction and velocity away from the particles. The surfaces highlight the filamentary and sheet-like structures punctuated by large clusters that galaxies trace out in real-world observations of the large-scale structure of the universe. Paul Shapiro and Hugo Martel of the Galaxy Formation and Intergalactic Medium Research Group at the University of Texas developed the simulations. The visualization was produced at the Center for Computational Visualization at the University of Texas, using image-rendering software created by Chandrajit Bajaj's group that is being integrated into the Scalable Visualization Toolkits alpha project. This work is being supported by a National Science Foundation Large Data Visualization grant. (Year of image: 2000)


Credit: Simulations by Paul Shapiro and Hugo Martel, Galaxy Formation and Intergalactic Medium Research Group, University of Texas; visualization by the Center for Computational Visualization, University of Texas, using image rendering software created by Chandrajit Bajaj

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