An international team of researchers has created a virtual universe and made it available to everyone. The model has been specially compressed so that it can be viewed from almost any device.
Scientists named the universe Uchuu, which means “outer space” in Japanese. This is the largest and most realistic simulation of the universe to date. Uchuu is composed of 2.1 trillion particles with an unprecedented distance of 9.63 billion light-years to one side. For comparison, this is about three-quarters of the distance between Earth and the most distant observed galaxies. Uchuu shows the evolution of the universe at a hitherto unthinkable level – both in terms of size and detail.
This model is the large-scale structure of the universe. The scale of structures within it ranges from the largest galaxy clusters to the smallest galaxies. Individual stars and planets are not detailed, so users are unlikely to find alien civilizations here. But one of the advantages of Uchuu over other virtual worlds is that it simulates the evolution of matter over almost the entire 13.8 billion years of the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present day.
An international team of researchers from Japan, Spain, USA, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, and Italy has created Uchuu using ATERUI II, the world’s most powerful supercomputer designed to study celestial bodies. Even with this capacity, it took a year to build Uchuu.
“To create Uchuu, we used all 40,000 processors available for 48 hours every month. We spent about 20 million supercomputer hours and generated 3 petabytes of data, which is the equivalent of 895 million photographs.”
In order for anyone to view the model, the research team used high-performance computational techniques to compress the information into a 100 terabyte catalog. This catalog can now be viewed in the cloud thanks to the skun6 computing infrastructure located at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC).