Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Astronomers have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to help them chart and explain the structure and dynamics of the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy. Scientists routinely use large telescopes to scan the sky, mapping the coordinates and estimating the distances of hundreds of thousands of galaxies and so enabling them to create a map of the large-scale structure of the Universe.

An image of a slice through the local universe, 370 million light years on each side. The red circles mark the positions of galaxies observed with the 2MRS survey which measured the positions and distances of over 45000 galaxies. The blue circles are random points (galaxies) inserted to smooth the map across the 'zone of avoidance' where nearby gas and dust in our Galaxy blocks the view of more distant objects. These data are superimposed on the light and dark background of the cosmic web of galaxies modelled by Kitaura et al using an artificial intelligence algorithm.
Credit: Francisco Kitaura, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, Potsdam.

Astronomers in Germany have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to help them chart and explain the structure and dynamics of the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy. The team, led by Francisco Kitaura of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, report their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Scientists routinely use large telescopes to scan the sky, mapping the coordinates and estimating the distances of hundreds of thousands of galaxies and so enabling them to create a map of the large-scale structure of the Universe. But the distribution that astronomers see is intriguing and hard to explain, with galaxies forming a complex 'cosmic web' showing clusters, filaments connecting them, and large empty regions in between.

The driving force for such a rich structure is gravitation. This force originates from two components; firstly the 5% of the universe that appears to be made of 'normal' matter that makes up the stars, planets, dust and gas we can see and secondly the 23% made up of invisible 'dark' matter. Alongside these some 72% of the cosmos is made up of a mysterious 'dark energy' that rather than exerting a gravitational pull is thought to be responsible for accelerating the expansion of the universe. Together these three constituents are described in the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) model for the cosmos, the starting point for the work of the Potsdam team.

Measurements of the residual heat from the Big Bang -- the so-called Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation or CMBR emitted 13700 million years ago -- allow astronomers to determine the motion of the Local Group, the cluster of galaxies that includes the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in. Astronomers try to reconcile this motion with that predicted by the distribution of matter around us and its associated gravitational force, but this is compromised by the difficulty of mapping the dark matter in the same region.

"Finding the dark matter distribution corresponding to a galaxy catalogue is like trying to make a geographical map of Europe from a satellite image during the night that only shows the light coming from dense populated areas," says Dr Kitaura.

To try to solve this problem he developed a new algorithm based on artificial intelligence (AI). It starts with the fluctuations in the density of the universe seen in the CMBR, then models the way that matter collapses into today's galaxies over the subsequent 13 billion years. The results of the AI algorithm are a close fit to the observed distribution and motion of galaxies.

Dr Kitaura comments, "Our precise calculations show that the direction of motion and 80% of the speed of the galaxies that make up the Local Group can be explained by the gravitational forces that arise from matter up to 370 million light years away. In comparison the Andromeda Galaxy, the largest member of the Local Group, is a mere 2.5 million light years distant so we are seeing how the distribution of matter at great distances affects galaxies much closer to home.

'Our results are also in close agreement with the predictions of the LCDM model. To explain the rest of the 20% of the speed, we need to consider the influence of matter up to about 460 million light years away, but at the moment the data are less reliable at such a large distance.

'Despite this caveat, our model is a big step forward. With the help of AI, we can now model the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy and study how the largest structures in the cosmos came into being."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francisco-Shu Kitaura, Pirin Erdogdu, Sebastian E. Nuza, Arman Khalatyan, Raul E. Angulo, Yehuda Hoffman, Stefan Gottloeber. Cosmic Structure and Dynamics of the Local Universe. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2012 [link]

Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924080307.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2012, September 24). Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924080307.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924080307.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins