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SuperMUC-Enabled Cosmology Simulations on Display at the Deutsches Museum

GCS Newsflash 05/2019

Computational astrophysicists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich use HPC to recreate the universe’s origins. Their work recently informed a new planetarium exhibition.

This spring, visitors to Munich’s Deutsches Museum can stop by the planetarium and experience how the universe came to be, thanks to supercomputing.

Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU) have been using high-performance computing (HPC) resources at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) for the last decade to model some of the most challenging mysteries pertaining to our universe—how stars and, in turn, galaxies form, how dark matter influences galaxy creation and evolution, or how elements are spread around in the universe, among others. The team’s research has resulted in countless scientific journal publications, highlighting insights gained through its HPC research.

Now, in conjunction with the Deutsches Museum, the researchers have made a selection of their results available to museum visitors. The show, taking place in the Deutsches Museum’s planetarium, is titled “Ausgerechnet! Unser Universum.”

The 30-minute program, narrated by well-known researcher and science journalist Harald Lesch, shows visitors high-resolution visualizations, as well as photos and video footage, of heavenly bodies and how galaxies formed, displayed across the full dome of the planetarium ceiling. “My collaborators developed new post processing tools to better display our data for the animations in the film and all the external shots were taken by our students,” said Dr. Klaus Dolag, astrophysicist at LMU and principal investigator on the SuperMUC research underpinning this program.

The visualization of the simulations consists of nearly 50,000 high-resolution images, totaling roughly a petabyte of simulation data (a petabyte of data is one million gigabytes). It took the research team and museum staff several months to port the visualization to be suited for the full-dome projection.

-Eric Gedenk

Deutsches Museum Based on simulation data obtained from SuperMUC simulations, visitors to the Deutsches Museum’s planetarium will be able to watch galaxies in motion across the whole dome. Image Credit: Deutsches Museum/Bastian Harfold