New Mathematical Model Creates the Most Accurate Map of the Early Universe

March 16, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

Large-scale structure of light distribution in the universe
Photo credit: UCL Mathematics and Physical Science’s/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

We are one step closer to understanding what happened immediately after the Big Bang.

Using a new code called “gevolution” combined with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, physicists in Switzerland have created a map of the growth of the universe that is more accurate than ever before. The new model factors in the rotation of spacetime, as well as the amplitude of gravitational waves — which were confirmed to exist last month (February).

According to developers, it is more accurate than previous simulations because it takes into account the high-speed movements of particles and the fluctuations of dark energy.

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing model for the formation of the universe, stating that the universe expanded from a very high density and high temperature state, and it has been confirmed through a series of observed data. However, the timeline and early development of the universe still remain an area of debate, and this model could help answer some questions.

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The team, from the University of Geneva, analysed a cubic portion in space consisting of 60 billion zones, each containing a particle (a portion of a galaxy), allowing the researchers to study the way the particles moved in relation to their neighbors.

Previously, scientists studied the formation of large cosmological bodies using Isaac Newton’s law of gravitation: the attraction between two objects is directly related to their mass and the distance between them. However, Einstein’s relativity has recently replaced it because it links gravity with acceleration, thus providing a more accurate way to track the constantly changing universe.

By using data from Einstein’s equations, rather than Newton’s law of gravitation, the gevolution model measured the metric distances and time between galaxies in the universe. It is a more accurate and complex look at how the universe expanded at the beginning of its history and it puts a tangible size on the early universe by estimating the size of different early clusters.

The hope is that the model will also help scientists understand more about gravitational waves and dark energy, which is thought to to make up nearly 70 percent of the universe.

“This conceptually clean approach is very general and can be applied to various settings where the Newtonian approximation fails or becomes inaccurate, ranging from simulations of models with dynamical dark energy or warm/hot dark matter to core collapse supernova explosions,” explained the paper, published in the journal Nature Physics.

The gevolution model will also make it possible for general relativity to be tested on a larger scale than ever before. They also plan to make the gevolution code open to the public in the near future according to ScienceAlert.

We are one step closer to the understanding the birth of the universe!

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