Scientists have simulated a virtual universe ‘Uchuu”, and you can download it for free

In the event that you’ve needed at any point ever to investigate the whole universe from the solace of your PC, presently’s your possibility. An international team has made the biggest and most realistic virtual universe to date called Uchuu (which signifies “outer space” in Japanese), reproducing 2.1 trillion particles in a computational cube which is a mind-bending 9.63 billion light-years wide on each side.

The simulation was made using the supercomputer ATERUI II, which is devoted to astronomy projects. The supercomputer situated in Iwate, Japan, has a peak performance of more than 3 Pflops, however even with this power it actually required an entire year to work through the entirety of the information and make the simulation.

“To produce Uchuu we have used … all 40,200 processors (CPU cores) available exclusively for 48 hours each month,” said Tomoaki Ishiyama, an associate professor at Chiba University who developed the code for the project. “Twenty million supercomputer hours were consumed, and 3 Petabytes of data were generated, the equivalent of 894,784,853 pictures from a 12-megapixel cell phone.”

The simulation looks at halos of dark matter which are huge-scale structures that could enlighten us concerning the formation of galaxies and the early universe. The large-scale nature of the simulation makes it an important tool for studying how the universe developed after some time, as it shows exceptionally far off regions which represent early stages in the life of the universe.

“Uchuu is like a time machine,” said Julia F. Ereza, a Ph.D. student at Instituto Astrofísica Andalucía in Spain who uses Uchuu. “We can go forward, backward and stop in time, we can ‘zoom in’ on a single galaxy or ‘zoom out’ to visualize a whole cluster, we can see what is really happening at every instant and in every place of the Universe from its earliest days to the present, being an essential tool to study the Cosmos.”

Furthermore, indeed, should you want to experience the marvel of investigating the whole (virtual) universe for yourself, then, at that point you can, as the team has made the whole simulation available free of charge download to any individual who wants it. However fair warning — even compressed, the simulation takes up 100 terabytes, so you’ll require some serious hard drive space accessible.

To download the simulation and to discover more about collaborating with it, you can go to the Uchuu simulation website and its connected GitHub page. The group is likewise intending to release more information in the future, including catalogs of virtual galaxies and gravitational lensing maps.

The research is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.