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    • 2015-10-29 10:05:00
    • Article ID: 642263

    Researchers Model Birth of Universe in One of Largest Cosmological Simulations Ever Run

    • Credit: Image by Heitmann et. al.

      This series shows the evolution of the universe as simulated by a run called the Q Continuum, performed on the Titan supercomputer and led by Argonne physicist Katrin Heitmann. These images give an impression of the detail in the matter distribution in the simulation. At first the matter is very uniform, but over time gravity acts on the dark matter, which begins to clump more and more, and in the clumps, galaxies form.

    • Credit: Image by Heitmann et. al.

      Galaxies have halos surrounding them, which may be composed of both dark and regular matter. This image shows a substructure within a halo in the Q Continuum simulation, with “subhalos” marked in different colors.

    Researchers model birth of universe in one of largest cosmological simulations ever run

    Researchers are sifting through an avalanche of data produced by one of the largest cosmological simulations ever performed, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

    The simulation, run on the Titan supercomputer at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day—from its earliest infancy to its current adulthood. Over the course of 13.8 billion years, the matter in the universe clumped together to form galaxies, stars and planets; but we’re not sure precisely how.

    These kinds of simulations help scientists understand dark energy, a form of energy that affects the expansion rate of the universe, including the distribution of galaxies, composed of ordinary matter, as well as dark matter, a mysterious kind of matter that no instrument has directly measured so far.

    Intensive sky surveys with powerful telescopes, like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the new, more detailed Dark Energy Survey, show scientists where galaxies and stars were when their light was first emitted. And surveys of the Cosmic Microwave Background, light remaining from when the universe was only 300,000 years old, show us how the universe began—“very uniform, with matter clumping together over time,” said Katrin Heitmann, an Argonne physicist who led the simulation.

    The simulation fills in the temporal gap to show how the universe might have evolved in between: “Gravity acts on the dark matter, which begins to clump more and more, and in the clumps, galaxies form,” said Heitmann.

    Called the Q Continuum, the simulation involved half a trillion particles—dividing the universe up into cubes with sides 100,000 kilometers long. This makes it one of the largest cosmology simulations at such high resolution. It ran using more than 90 percent of the supercomputer. For perspective, typically less than one percent of jobs use 90 percent of the Mira supercomputer at Argonne, said officials at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility . Staff at both the Argonne and Oak Ridge computing facilities helped adapt the code for its run on Titan.

    “This is a very rich simulation,” Heitmann said. “We can use this data to look at why galaxies clump this way, as well as the fundamental physics of structure formation itself.”

    Analysis has already begun on the two and a half petabytes of data that were generated, and will continue for several years, she said. Scientists can pull information on such astrophysical phenomena as strong lensing, weak lensing shear, cluster lensing and galaxy-galaxy lensing.

    The code to run the simulation is called Hardware/Hybrid Accelerated Cosmology Code (HACC), which was first written in 2008, around the time scientific supercomputers broke the petaflop barrier (a quadrillion operations per second). HACC is designed with an inherent flexibility that enables it to run on supercomputers with different architectures.

    Details of the work are included in the study, “The Q continuum simulation: harnessing the power of GPU accelerated supercomputers,” published in August in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series by the American Astronomical Society. Other Argonne scientists on the study included Nicholas Frontiere, Salman Habib, Adrian Pope, Hal Finkel, Silvio Rizzi, Joe Insley and Suman Bhattacharya, as well as Chris Sewell at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) jointly by High Energy Physics and Advanced Scientific Computing Research ) and used resources of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. The work presented here results from an award of computer time provided by the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program at the OLCF.

    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

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    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    An effect that Einstein helped discover 100 years ago offers new insight into a puzzling magnetic phenomenon

    Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have seen for the first time what happens when magnetic materials are demagnetized at ultrafast speeds of millionths of a billionth of a second: The atoms on the surface of the material move, much like the iron bar did. The work, done at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser, was published in Nature earlier this month.

    Found: A precise method for determining how waves and particles affect fusion reactions

    Like surfers catching ocean waves, particles within plasma can ride waves oscillating through the plasma during fusion energy experiments. Now a team of physicists led by PPPL has devised a faster method to determine how much this interaction contributes to efficiency loss in tokamaks.

    Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water

    In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have combined two membrane-bound protein complexes to perform a complete conversion of water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.

    Nanocrystals Get Better When They Double Up With MOFs

    Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a dual-purpose material out of a self-assembling MOF (metal-organic framework)-nanocrystal hybrid that could one day be used to store carbon dioxide gas molecules for the manufacture of new chemicals and fuels.

    Turn, turn, turn: New findings bring physicists closer to understanding the formation of planets and stars

    New findings further the understanding of a machine known as the magnetorotational instability experiment, which is named for and brings us closer to detecting the source of the instability that causes interstellar gas and dust to collapse into celestial bodies.

    Scientists inch closer to fusion energy with discovery of a process that stabilizes plasmas

    Feature describes newly discovered stabilizing effect of underappreciated 1983 finding that variations in plasma temperature can influence the growth of magnetic islands that lead to disruption of fusion plasmas.

    Ten PPPL stories you may have missed from 2018 -- plus a special bonus

    Feature summarizes and links to discoveries and breakthroughs at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 2018, plus a profile of the knight who leads the laboratory.


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    Top 10 Discoveries of 2018

    Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory compiles a list of the biggest advances made by the Lab's staff scientists, engineers, and visiting researchers. From uncovering mysteries of the universe to building better batteries, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 discoveries of 2018.

    U.S. Department of Energy Announces $33 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will award 189 grants totaling $33 million to 149 small businesses in 32 states.

    DOE to Provide $16 Million for New Research into Atmospheric and Terrestrial Processes

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million for new observational research aimed at improving the accuracy of today's climate and earth system models.

    Machine learning award powers Argonne leadership in engine design

    When attempting to design engines to be more fuel-efficient and emissions-free, automotive manufacturers have to take into account all the complexity inherent in the combustion process.

    ORNL partners with industry to address multiple nuclear technology challenges

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.

    Lithium earns honors for three physicists working to bring the energy that powers the sun to Earth

    Feature describes research of three PPPL physicists who have won the laboratory's 2018 outstanding research awards

    DOE approves technical plan and cost estimate to upgrade Argonne facility; Project will create X-rays that illuminate the atomic scale, in 3D

    The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the technical scope, cost estimate and plan of work for an upgrade of the Advanced Photon Source, a major storage-ring X-ray source at Argonne.

    Costas Soukoulis elected to National Academy of Inventors

    Costas Soukoulis, Ames Laboratory senior scientist and Iowa State University Frances M. Craig Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor, has been named as a 2018 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

    Biophysicist F. William Studier Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

    F. William Studier, a Senior Biophysicist Emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Stony Brook University, has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is among 148 renowned academic inventors being recognized by NAI for 2018.

    Blast to the future

    A grant from DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund will help researchers at Argonne and industry partners seek improvements to U.S. manufacturing by making discovery and design of new materials more efficient.


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    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    New Method Knocks Out Yeast Genes with Single-Point Precision

    Researchers can precisely study how different genes affect key properties in a yeast used industrially to produce fuel and chemicals.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.

    More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities

    A combined experimental and modeling approach contributes to understanding small proteins with potential use in industrial, therapeutic applications.

    Deep Learning for Electron Microscopy

    Artificial intelligence on Summit to discover atomic-scale structures.

    Clarifying Rates of Methylmercury Production

    New model provides more accurate estimates of how fast microbes produce a mercury-based neurotoxin.

    Drought Stress Changes Microbes Living at Sorghum's Roots

    Scientists explore how drought-tolerant plants communicate to nearby microorganisms, suggesting ways to engineer more resilient bioenergy crops.

    How to Best Predict Chemical Reactions of Contaminants in Water

    Scientists determine the accuracy of computational methods used to study the sulfate radical approach to purifying water.

    Small Particles Play Large Role in Tropical Thunderstorms

    Ultrafine aerosol particles produce bigger storm clouds and more precipitation than larger aerosols in pristine conditions.


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