Cosmological simulations are a cornerstone of our understanding of the Universe during its 13.7 billion year progression from small fluctuations that we see in the cosmic microwave background to today, where we are surrounded by galaxies and clusters of galaxies interconnected by a vast cosmic web.
The Dark Sky Simulations are an ongoing series of cosmological N-body simulations designed to provide a quantitative and accessible model of the evolution of the large-scale Universe. We accomplish this through a coupling of advanced numerical methods, intuitive data analysis techniques, and a substantial public data release, described in our Early Data Release paper that you can find on the arXiv.
ds14_a is the first trillion particle simulation released to the public, and is being used to study the very largest scales in the Universe. It spans a cubical region 8 Gpc/h on a side, nearly 40 billion light years across. With 102403 (~1.07 trillion) particles, we follow the growth of the largest clusters of galaxies, weighing in at more than a quadrillion times the mass of our own sun.
This simulation, as well as a set of lower-particle count simulations (20483-40963), are referred to as the ds14_g simulations, and are the first in a set of simulations enabled through DOE INCITE computing grant project titled Probing Dark Matter at Extreme Scales. of 80 million CPU hours on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Titan Supercomputer.