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 Formation of the Milky Way
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Formation of the Milky Way

August 2, 2010
This image, taken from a visualization created by the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), shows the formation of the Milky Way galaxy at 16 million to 13.7 billion years old. Brian O'Shea of Michigan State University (formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory) and Michael Norman of the University of California at San Diego collaborated on this research.

O'Shea was awarded a National Science Foundation Petascale Computing Resource Allocations award that will allow him to simulate hundreds of thousands of galaxies on Blue Waters, a sustained-petascale supercomputer at NCSA. These simulations will give a much better look at the first billion years after the big bang, a time in the development of the universe that is little understood. "A whole lot of stuff went on in that first billion years... a lot of galaxy formation took place. The universe was dense. Everything was close together. The rate at which things happened was really, really fast," he says.