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Data centre for cosmological simulations launched

Thu 22 Jun 2017

A team of astrophysicists at the Technical University of Munich have announced a new data center, specifically designed for cosmological studies.

The Cosmowebportal was created to address the enormous amounts of data involved in creating, viewing and manipulating cosmological simulations. The Cosmowebportal provides scientists with access to the cosmological hydrodynamic simulations from the Magneticum Pathfinder, which was developed by the same team.

Simulations are saved in their entirety at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) on a specific data store created for extremely large datasets. This data store is connected to the SuperMUC supercomputer located at the LRZ center near Munich.

Using a web interface, astrophysicists can interact with saved simulation data, selecting objects from the simulation for new kinds of analysis, or to create new simulations that mimic the data from space telescopes.

The Phox tool allows a user to extract virtual X-ray observations from a stored simulation. The SMAC tool maps physical quantities of galaxy clusters, while the SimCut and ClusterFind tools allow a user to find a simulation subset or specific object for closer analysis or manipulation.

Scientists have used data from cosmological simulations to develop precise models of the universe, but the distribution of matter in the early universe remains a mystery. Theoretical astrophysicists create complex mathematical models to explain the physics of the evolution of matter in the universe, and cosmological hydrodynamic simulations on supercomputers to test those theories.

Dr. Klaus Dolag, the leader of the team that developed the Cosmowebportal as well as the Magneticum Pathfinder, said that the importance of these types of simulations will increase in the near future, making a data center dedicated to cosmological simulations important for scientists and researchers.

“Large astronomical projects such as the space telescopes Euclid or eRosita, which are to be launched in the next few years, will observe large areas of the Universe, as well as provide further insight into the evolution of the first structures of the Universe so that the significance of cosmological hydrodynamic simulations will even increase in future,” he said. “A data centre that pools and makes these simulations available therefore is an important facility for scientists working in the field.”

In 2015, the Magneticum Pathfinder team created a simulation of the universe’s matter distribution, taking advances in the studies of dark energy and dark matter into account. The largest simulation is a cube with an area of 12.5 billion light years, which had never been described in a cosmological simulation before.

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