HPC simulations of the early Universe

Dr Simon Mutch1

1The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


Understanding the formation and evolution of the first galaxies in the Universe is a vital piece of the puzzle in understanding how all galaxies, including our own Milky Way, came to be.  It is also a key aim of major forthcoming international facilities such as the Square Kilometre Array and James Webb Space Telescope.  In order to maximize what we can learn from observations made by these facilities, we need to be able to accurately simulate the early Universe and model how galaxies affected and interacted with their environments.

In this talk I will present some of the work being carried out within the Genesis simulations team (part of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics in 3D, ASTRO 3D) to tackle this complex problem using a combination of large scale, state-of-the-art HPC simulations and modelling techniques.  In particular, I will discuss how we can break down the problem and pour all of our computational resources into simulating the growth of structure and spatial distribution of galaxies, allowing us to model the intrinsic properties of these galaxies (size, mass, luminosity, etc.) in a separate post-processing step.  Doing so opens up the possibility to run many tens-of-thousands of realizations of the early Universe and to do a statistical exploration of the physics of early galaxy formation.


Simon Mutch is a Research Data Specialist in the Melbourne Data Analytics Platform (MDAP) and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics in 3-Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).  His astronomy research is focused on the first galaxies and their impact on the evolution of the Universe, which he studies using simulations run on national HPC facilities.  Through his role with MDAP, he is also currently collaborating with academics in areas such as climate science and ecology, to help uplift their digital research capabilities.  Simon contributes to the Australian astronomical community through a number of national committees and is an inaugural Science and Technology Australia STEM Ambassador, a position which sees him meet with policy and decision makers to advocate for the importance of STEM and related fields.


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