This is the most complete simulation of the universe ever built by humans.
The IllustrisTNG project is a suite of state-of-the-art cosmological galaxy formation simulations. The simulations can be used to study a broad range of topics surrounding how the Universe evolved over time, and test our current ideas on the formation and evolution of galaxies (the standard cosmological model).
To do so, the IllustrisTNG project strives to create simulated galaxies as detailed and realistic as possible, and compare them to galaxies observed in the real universe. It consists of 18 simulations in total. The individual simulations vary in their physical size, mass resolution, and complexity of physics included. Three physical simulation box sizes are employed: TNG50, TNG100, and TNG300, with cubic volumes of roughly 50, 100, and 300 Mpc side length, respectively(1).
The goals of constructing such a large and ambitious simulation suite are to shed light on the physical processes that drive galaxy formation, to understand when, why, and how galaxies are evolving into the structures that are observed in the night sky, and to make predictions for current and future observational programs to broaden and deepen our understanding of galaxy formation.
The IllustrisTNG project is pushing cosmological magnetohydrodynamical simulations to new limits – in size, resolution, and physical fidelity. Yet, the TNG300 volume is still relatively small for cosmology. The resolution and physical model assumptions of TNG50 are still relatively coarse, for studying the properties of the dense and cold phases of the interstellar medium.
Nobody said that building a universe was a simple task!
(1) 1 Mpc = one million parsecs. 1 parsec ≅ 3.26 light-years
Images and video, TNG Simulations