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Astrophysicists have created the most realistic computer simulation of the universe's evolution to date, tracking activity from the Big Bang to now -- a time span of around 14 billion years -- in high resolution.

Created by a team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA) in collaboration with researchers at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), the Arepo software provides detailed imagery of different galaxies in the local universe using a technique known as "moving mesh".

Unlike previous model simulators, such as the Gadget code, Arepo's hydrodynamic model replicates the gaseous formations following the Big Bang by using a virtual, flexible grid that has the capacity to move to match the motions of the gas, stars, dark matter and dark energy that make up space -- it's like a virtual model of the cosmic web, able to bend and flex to support the matter and celestial bodies that make up the universe. Old simulators instead used a more regimented, fixed, cubic grid.