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Forming the Milky Way on a Supercomputer

Project AQUILA
Research Area Earth System Science
Principal Investigator(s) Prof. Dr. Carlos S. Frenk
  • Durham University, Physics Department, England
  • Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics, Germany
  • MPI for Astrophysics, Germany
  • University of Leiden, Netherlands
  • University of Victoria, Canada
  • University of Sussex, England
  • University of Nottingham, England


Using unprecedented high resolution, we propose to perform a hydrodynamical cosmological simulation of the formation of a Milky Way-sized halo that follows the physics of radiative cooling, star formation, supernova explosions, and accretion onto embedded supermassive black holes, as well as associated stellar and quasar feedback processes. This projects seeks to address fundamental problems of galaxy formation physics, including the question: (i) to what extent the dark matter structure of the Milky Way's halo and of its substructure are modified by dissipative processes in the cosmic gas; (ii) to what degree the small number of observed luminous satellite systems in the Milky Way can be reconciled with the large number of dark matter subhalos expected in the CDM cosmology; (iii) to what degree supermassive black holes shape the properties of the Galactic bulge; and (iv) to whether the leading theoretical paradigm can reproduce the disk morphology observed for the Milky Way including its detailed rotation curve. Answering these questions will provide a dramatic advance in our understanding of galaxy formation.

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