NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 31 May 2023: The history of our Universe

Today’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is the computer simulation of our Universe as it developed throughout history.

| Updated on: May 31 2023, 13:34 IST
Eye-catching NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Jupiter’s swirls, Virgo Galaxy Cluster, and more
1/5 Supernova near M101 Spiral Galaxy (May 22) - This is a snapshot of the supernova SN 2023ixf located near the M101 spiral galaxy. This supernova was discovered by Japanese astronomer Koichi Itagaki and was located on the automated images captured by the Zwicky Transient Facility, a wide-field sky astronomical survey in California. (NASA/Craig Stocks)
2/5 Breathtaking swirls of Jupiter (May 23) - Jupiter’s swirls, formed due to the storms raging on the surface of the planet can be seen in this breathtaking image. According to NASA, The planet has also been harboring various natural phenomena for hundreds of years. Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years. ( NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)
3/5 Moon hides behind Jupiter (May 24) - This is an amazing snapshot of lunar occultation, as the Moon hid behind Jupiter. This phenomenon occurred earlier this month, and while the Moon is half-lit by the Sun, its other part is in hiding. In the snapshot shared by NASA, the Moon is backdropping the Lick Observatory in California, USA, on the summit of Mount Hamilton. (NASA/Rick Whitacre)
4/5 Breathtaking Cat's Eye Nebula (May 25) -  NGC 6543, also known as the Cat's Eye Nebula located about 3000 light-years away was shot in this spectacular image. According to NASA, the Cat’s Eye Nebula is one of the best-known planetary nebulae in the sky and its faint outer halo spans about 5 light-years. NGC 6543 is located towards the constellation of Draco and was discovered by German-British astronomer William Herschel on February 15, 1786. (NASA/Jean-Francois Bax/Guillaume Gruntz)
5/5 Virgo cluster of galaxies (May 26) - It is a snapshot of the Virgo cluster of galaxies located about 50 million light-years away. According to NASA, the Virgo cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies and contains over 2000 galaxies. This cluster also includes bright Messier galaxies such as M84 and M86 which are part of the Markarian's Chain. Dominating this galaxy cluster is the giant elliptical galaxy M87. (NASA/Abdullah Al-Harbi)
icon View all Images
Our Universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old. (NASA/ TNG Collaboration/MPCDF/FAS Harvard U)

The Universe is around 13.8 billion years old, although the exact age remains unknown. But how do experts calculate the age? According to NASA, astronomers can calculate the age of the Universe by looking for the oldest stars, and measuring the rate of expansion of the universe and extrapolating back to the Big Bang. Since the Universe moves too slowly for us to witness it develop, scientists have developed a new way to uncover the secrets - through computer simulations.

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is the computer simulation of our Universe as it developed throughout history. This simulation tracks gases leading from the early Universe till today. As the simulation goes on, the formation of a disk galaxy takes place. For the unaware, Disk Galaxies are formed when two or more galaxies merge, resulting in a pancake-shaped disk of stars. Our own Milky Way Galaxy is one such disk galaxy, and it will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy in the distant future, according to NASA.

The simulation was created by the IllustrisTNG project with assistance from the Max Planck Computing and Data Facility and Research Computing which is part of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS) Division of Science at Harvard University.

NASA's description

How did we get here? We know that we live on a planet orbiting a star in a galaxy, but how did all of this form? Since our universe moves too slowly to watch, faster-moving computer simulations are created to help find out. Specifically, this featured video from the IllustrisTNG collaboration tracks gas from the early universe (redshift 12) until today (redshift 0). As the simulation begins, ambient gas falls into and accumulates in a region of relatively high gravity. After a few billion years, a well-defined center materializes from a strange and fascinating cosmic dance.

Gas blobs -- some representing small satellite galaxies -- continue to fall into and become absorbed by the rotating galaxy as the present epoch is reached and the video ends. For the Milky Way Galaxy, however, big mergers may not be over -- recent evidence indicates that our large spiral disk Galaxy will collide and coalesce with the slightly larger Andromeda spiral disk galaxy in the next few billion years.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Whatsapp channel,Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 31 May, 13:34 IST