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Uchuu is the simulation of the universe that best tries to explain where it comes from and where it is going, and has managed to go back to the Big Bang

It sounds like science fiction, but it is not. It’s just science. Of course, it is avant-garde science. And, as we can guess, develop a computer simulation model that allows us to accurately recreate how has the universe evolved from an instant immediately after the Big Bang to the present moment is a huge challenge. Titanic even. But it’s not impossible.

An international team of scientists in which researchers from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics (IAA) participate, which is linked to the Higher Center for Scientific Research (CSIC), and also to the Supercomputing Center of Galicia (CESGA), has achieved this. The simulation model they have created it’s called uchuu, a Japanese word that simply means ‘universe’, and runs on the ATERUI II supercomputer, which is installed at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Although this supercomputer does not occupy one of the first positions in the ranking TOP500 (currently resides in the middle of this classification approximately), is a monster that brings together no less than 2000 Intel Xeon Gold 6148 processors. Each of these CPUs incorporates 20 cores and is capable of simultaneously processing 40 threads (threads), which indicates that ATERUI II incorporates the chilling figure of 40,000 cores. This is the muscle needed to make this simulation of the entire universe possible.

The purpose of Uchuu is to allow us to travel in time without losing resolution

According to the researchers who have participated in this project, Uchuu is the most complex and accurate simulation of the universe developed to date. Its objective is to help us better understand astronomical phenomena, and to make it possible it is necessary that it allows scientists to observe different moments of the temporal dimension of the universe from an instant after the Big Bang to the present moment. And yes, apparently it does.

But this is not the only amazing quality of this simulation. In addition, Uchuu is made up of 2.1 trillion particles (billions of ours, not Anglo-Saxons) which, in turn, are contained in a virtual cube 9630 million light years on a side. Each of these particles is an object with an independent entity within the simulation, which allows us to get a rough idea that this computer model has a very high resolution.

In fact, this is one of the qualities most valued by those responsible for this project. According to them, Uchuu allows researchers to choose with great freedom what moment in the evolution of the universe they want to study, and also what object they need to observe. They can, for example, turn their full attention to a particular galaxy, or stick to dark matter halos in order to analyze its evolution over time, among many other exciting options.

Uchuu manages to recreate the evolution of matter during practically the total age of the universe, which amounts to about 13.8 billion years

In any case, one of the most amazing capabilities of this simulation is the skill with which according to its designers it achieves recreate the evolution of matter for practically the entire age of the universe, which amounts to about 13.8 billion years. The volume of data that Uchuu has generated during its execution in ATERUI II amounts to 3 petabytes, and all this information has been stored on a platform specifically designed for this project by the scientists and engineers of the Galician Supercomputing Center.

It is evident that the scientific effort that has been necessary to carry out this project to a successful conclusion has been very important. And there is no doubt that the economic investment that it has involved has also been. However, the simulation result is within reach completely free of charge Through the CESGA cloud of any research group or user who needs to consult it.

Collaboration in this area benefits us all, and, once again, scientists have once again taught society a lesson about how important it is to put differences aside and join forces to carry out projects that would otherwise be unaffordable.

Cover image | CSIC

More information | CSIC