Astrophysicists simulate microscopic clusters of the Big Bang

The first structures of the Universe

The simulation results show the growth of tiny and extremely dense structures shortly after the inflation phase of the early universe. Between the initial and final states of the simulation (top left and right respectively), the area shown has expanded to ten million times its initial volume, but is still many times smaller than the interior of a proton . The enlarged group in the lower left would have a mass of approximately 20 kg. Credit: Jens Niemeyer, University of Göttingen

The first moments of the Universe can be reconstructed mathematically although they cannot be observed directly. Physicists at the Universities of Göttingen and Auckland (New Zealand) have vastly improved the ability of complex computer simulations to describe this early era. They found that a complex network of structures can form in the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. The behavior of these objects mimics the distribution of galaxies in the current Universe. However, unlike what happens today, these primordial structures are microscopically small. Typical clumps have masses of only a few grams and fit in much smaller volumes than today’s elementary particles. The results of the study have been published in the journal Physical review D.

The researchers were able to observe the development of regions of higher density that are held together by their own gravity. “The physical space represented by our simulation would fit into a single proton a million times,” says Professor Jens Niemeyer, director of the Astrophysical Cosmology Group at the University of Göttingen. “It is probably the largest simulation of the smallest area of ​​the Universe that has been carried out so far.” These simulations allow to calculate more precise predictions of the properties of these vestiges from the beginning of the Universe.

Although the computer-simulated structures would be very short-lived and would eventually ‘vaporize’ into standard elementary particles, traces of this extreme early phase may be detectable in future experiments. “The formation of such structures, as well as their movements and interactions, must have generated background noise from gravitational waves,” says Benedikt Eggemeier, Ph.D. a student of Niemeyer’s group and first author of the study. “With the help of our simulations, we can calculate the strength of this gravitational wave signal, which could be measured in the future.”

It is also conceivable that small black holes could form if these structures collapse uncontrollably. If this happens, they could have observable consequences today, or become part of the mysterious dark matter in the Universe. “On the other hand,” says Professor Easther, “if the simulations predict the shape of black holes, and we don’t see them, then we have found a new way to test models of the infant universe.”

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More information:
Benedikt Eggemeier et al, Formation of inflaton halos after inflation, Physical review D (2021). DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevD.103.063525

Provided by the University of Göttingen

Citation: Astrophysicists Simulate Microscopic Clusters of the Big Bang (March 25, 2021) Retrieved March 26, 2021 from

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