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Interactive Lab

Cosmology and Beyond:
Evolution of Large Scale Structure in the Universe

Note: Units 10 and 11 make use of this interactive lab to demonstrate concepts relevant to physics on a cosmic scale.

Cosmos Lab
Launch Interactive Lab

When astronomers were first able to make detailed three-dimensional maps of distant galaxies, they were surprised to find that the galaxies in our universe are not distributed randomly, but instead gather into sheets and filaments. Cosmologists think that this large-scale structure arises from the growth of density variations, seeded by quantum mechanical fluctuations in the earliest moments of the birth of the universe. To test theories about the formation of large-scale structure, they run simulations of the evolution of our universe from the Big Bang to the present, using massive supercomputers. In this interactive lab, you can vary two of the most important cosmological parameters ( "Omega_M," the average matter density, and "sigma_8," the amplitude of density fluctuations) and then run the simulation to try to find which settings most closely match the observed matter distribution of the universe we inhabit.

These simulations were provided by Dr. Raul Angulo, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany.