Looking for cracks in the standard cosmological model

New computer simulations follow the formation of galaxies and the cosmic large-scale structure with unprecedented statistical precision more

The lingering imprint of the first cosmic structures

The universe today is host to a vast network of galaxies and an even richer array of invisible dark matter structures. But this was not always the case. The universe was nearly uniform until a time of about 100 million years, when the first cosmic structures gravitationally condensed. These objects were made of dark matter alone and each may have weighed no more than the Earth. Most of these objects do not last long: they rapidly grow and cluster together to form the much larger systems that we know today. Despite this, scientists at MPA have discovered in high-resolution simulations that some unique features of the first structures survive this process. Their lingering imprint could manifest itself in astronomical observations, yielding clues to the identity of dark matter. more

Gravitational lensing reveals the detailed shape of a galaxy

Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicts that large concentrations of mass – such as galaxies – will bend light rays passing nearby, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. When a distant galaxy (the lens) lies exactly between us and an even more distant object (the source), the source is distorted and magnified into several images around the lens galaxy. A group at MPA and other institutes used very long baseline radio interferometry (VLBI) to study a gravitational lens system in high resolution. This reveals extreme detail in the lensed images, and provides a new window into the physics of lens galaxies. more

Emission lines from the simulated interstellar medium

All stars in galaxies form in the dense gas of the interstellar medium (ISM). Ionizing radiation from newly born massive stars and supernova explosions lets the gas shine at characteristic wavelengths of certain atoms and ions. The relative strength of such line fluxes is an important observational diagnostic to reveal the internal state and composition of the ISM. However, emission by diffuse ionized gas has different flux ratios making accurate predictions difficult. Scientist at MPA and their European collaborators have used supercomputers to simulate a realistic star forming interstellar medium and to quantify the contribution of the diffuse gas. This finding allows for a more accurate interpretation of observations also at early cosmic times when these extreme conditions are more common than in the local Universe.  more

Scientists develop the largest, most detailed model of the early universe to date

The Thesan simulations help explain how light from the first galaxies transformed the Universe. more

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