Maths model aids in making simulations of early universe

January 6th, 2010 - 2:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 6 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have come up with a mathematical model that aids in developing simulations of the early universe.

Daniel R. Reynolds, assistant professor of mathematics at SMU (Southern Methodist University), collaborated with astrophysicists at the University of California at San Diego as part of a National Science Foundation project to simulate cosmic reionization, the time from 380,000 years to 400 million years after the universe was born.

Together the scientists built a computer model of events during the “Dark Ages” when the first stars emitted radiation that altered the surrounding matter, enabling light to pass through.

The team tested its model on two of the largest existing NSF supercomputers, “Ranger” at the University of Texas at Austin and “Kraken” at the University of Tennessee.

“The new mathematical model tightly couples a myriad of physical processes present during cosmic reionization, such as gas motion, radiation transport, chemical kinetics and gravitational acceleration due to star clustering and dark matter dynamics,” Reynolds said.

The key characteristic of the model that differentiates it from competing work is that the researchers focused on enforcing a very tight coupling in the model between the different physical processes.

“By forcing the computational methods to tightly bind these processes together, our new model allows us to generate simulations that are highly accurate, numerically stable and computationally scalable to the largest supercomputers available,” Reynolds said.

Simulation models typically consist of a complex bundle of mathematical equations representing physical processes.

The equations are integrated to reflect interaction of the physical processes. Only supercomputers can simultaneously solve the equations.

“Scientific intuition and creativity come into play by developing the base model with equations with the best parameters,” Reynolds said.

Variables can be altered to describe different scenarios that might have occurred.

The objective is to develop a simulation model with results that most closely resemble telescope observations and that predict a universe that looks like what we have.

If that happens, scientists have discovered the set of physical processes that existed at the birth of the universe as it was evolving from one instant to the next. (ANI)

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