This project received an MICDE Catalyst Grant in Spring 2020.


The establishment of the standard cosmological model over the past two decades has allowed theorists to explain the origin of the observed distribution of galaxies on large cosmic scales. A self-consistent way to model galaxies is to run simulations that include all the relevant physics such as gravity, gasdynamics, star formation, radiation transport, etc. Surveys from a variety of mountain-based and space-based telescopes have collected a large amount of data about our own Milky Way and nearby galaxies – collectively called the Local Group. To uncover the origins of our own Galaxy, the computational setup must be specifically tailored to match the known properties of the Local Group.

This project will develop a novel technique for custom tailoring initial conditions to simulate a specific chosen region of the universe. Then it will use the initial conditions tailored to reproduce the environment of the Milky Way galaxy and study its evolution from the beginning of the expansion of the universe until the present day. This technique could benefit all galaxy formation codes used by different groups around the world. The computational challenges of this technique are to enforce the continuity of physical variables and consistency of simulated outcomes, and to improve computational performance of galaxy formation codes.

Principal Investigator

Oleg Gnedin, Associate Professor of Astronomy, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, U-M