Astronomers have performed the largest ever computer simulations to investigate how the universe emerged from the Big Bang.
Project Flamingo calculated how ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy evolve according to the laws of physics.
Virtual galaxies and galaxy clusters appear in detail as the simulations progress.
The researchers hope they can compare the virtual world with NASA images of the real thing James Webb Telescope and European space Agency's Euclid Telescope.
A £10 million supercomputer at Durham University spent two years running the simulations, taking more than 50 million processor hours.
The COSMA 8 machine has the power of 17,000 home computers, and experts had to develop new code to distribute the massive workload across thousands of computer processors.
Physics professor Carlos Frank, from Durham University, said: “Cosmology is at a crossroads. We have amazing new data from powerful telescopes, some of which at first glance do not match our theoretical expectations.
“Either the Standard Model of cosmology is flawed, or there are subtle biases in the observational data.”
“Our super-accurate simulations of the universe should tell us the answer.”
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Previous simulations concentrated on cold dark matter, but astronomers now believe that ordinary matter and neutrinos—tiny particles that rarely interact with normal matter—must be considered in understanding the evolution of the universe.
“Although dark matter dominates gravity, the contribution of ordinary matter can no longer be neglected, as this contribution can be similar to the deviation between models and observations,” said principal investigator Professor Joop Schae, from Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Study Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.