MultiDark-Galaxies: a free access virtual universe

An international team of astronomers has created a theoretical model that allows to recreate, in a broad and detailed way, the formation and evolution of the universe. The work provides an unprecedented test bench for new theories about the cosmos


Terrestrial and space telescopes allow us to study what the universe was like billions of years ago, but to interpret the data they provide we need theoretical models capable of recreating the formation and evolution of billions of galaxies. Now, an international team, coordinated by Alexander Knebe of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Francisco Prada of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC), have created MultiDark-Galaxies, one of the largest and most precise virtual universes existing in cosmology nowadays.

"These virtual universes, which serve as test benches for new theories about the cosmos, are computationally expensive, numerically challenging and often lack the large number and details of the galaxies we observe," says Alexander Knebe (UAM). The group that has developed MultiDark-Galaxies, more accurate than existing projects, includes experts from South America, the United States, Europe and Australia.

Visualización de las galaxias en el universo virtual. La imagen de la izquierda muestra una porción de  4.7 millones de años luz de la simulación, que tiene una longitud total de 4.8 mil millones de años luz. Cada galaxia se muestra como un punto amarillo y el fondo indica la materia oscura que la rodea. La imagen de la derecha muestra ampliada una región más pequeña. Los halos de materia oscura que alojan a las galaxias son visibles como círculos, cuyos códigos de color corresponden a la densidad prevista y cuyos tamaños son proporcionales a su masa. Fuente: K. Kiebe, AIP.

"What MultiDark-Galaxies provides are catalogs of galaxies based on three different models, which include all the physical processes relevant to the formation and evolution of galaxies, adjusting to specific empirical observations and reproducing them," says Francisco Prada (IAA-CSIC).

The more than one hundred million virtual galaxies per model cover a cosmological volume comparable to that explored by ongoing and future observation campaigns. "This is an unprecedented opportunity to better understand existing observations and even make predictions for upcoming missions," says Knebe (UAM).

This virtual universe has open access and is available through databases hosted in y


A. Knebe et al. "MultiDark-Galaxies: data release and fist results". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


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