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Supercomputing—Galactic winds demystified

This video visualizes galactic winds driven by star clusters distributed throughout the galactic disk. Credit: Evan Schneider/Princeton University and Brant Robertson/UC Santa Cruz.

Using the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a team of astrophysicists created a set of galactic wind simulations of the highest resolution ever performed. The simulations will allow researchers to gather and interpret more accurate, detailed data that elucidates how galactic winds affect the formation and evolution of galaxies. Brant Robertson of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Evan Schneider of Princeton University developed the simulation suite to better understand galactic winds—outflows of gas released by supernova explosions—which could help explain variations in their density and temperature distributions. The improved set of galactic wind simulations will be incorporated into larger cosmological simulations. “We now have a much clearer idea of how the high speed, high temperature gas produced by clusters of supernovae is ejected after mixing with the cooler, denser gas in the disk of the galaxy,” Schneider said. —Elizabeth Rosenthal