For years, astronomers have been trying to figure out how our galaxy came to be. Even with the help of high-performance computers, no model of a spiral galaxy has ever been able to recreate the Milky Way, until now. An international team of researchers has created the first successful simulation of what happened 14 billion years ago to give our galaxy its unique shape. Turns out, all they needed was a bigger bang.
Photo by IntelFreePress
Whenever astronomers have tried to recreate the Milky Way in the past, the simulations produced spiral galaxies, but they never looked quite right. They eventually realized that they were using an explosion far too small. As Dr. Chris Brook explains, "When massive stars 'die' they explode spectacularly and return most of the chemical elements out of which us, our planet, and our solar system formed, as well as an enormous amount of energy into the surrounding gas."
The team played around with different sized explosions over a two-year period and found that when they used a star to create the explosion that was 10 to 100 times larger than the ones they had tried in the past, it started to become more and more realistic, even down to the color and chemistry. Each time they got a little closer, and eventually they got it right.
Way more impressive than the iTunes visualizer!