A simulated galaxy
Computer models can reveal secrets of galactic history.
The image above is not some Hubble snapshot of a distant galaxy, but rather the product of a detailed simulation of how galaxies like the Milky Way form and evolve over time.
The Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project uses huge amounts of computer power to create high resolution simulations of galaxies, giant molecular clouds and the birth and life of stars and galaxies.
By studying simulations like these and comparing them with real galaxies, astrophysicists and cosmologists hope to solve mysteries about galactic history and the deep past of the universe itself.