Researchers at the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC), together with other leading scientists across several international institutions, have been recognised with the prestigious Royal Astronomical Society Group Achievement award 2022 for the EAGLE project.
Scientists in our Department of Physics are truly revolutionary. Their pioneering and innovative research are reflective of our global reputation, where our Physics Department ranks 4th in the UK in both The Guardian and Complete University Guides 2022.
The EAGLE (Evolution and Assembly of Galaxies and their Local Environment) project has simulated tens of thousands of galaxies that have an uncanny resemblance to real galaxies, including the famous Hubble sequence of star-forming spiral galaxies and passive elliptical galaxies.
The simulation is one of the largest cosmological hydrodynamical simulations ever carried out and was performed in Durham's Cosmology Machine (COSMA) supercomputer, funded by the national DiRAC project, and in the Curie supercomputer in France.
It also allows researchers to trace the evolution of these galaxies back in time and compare them to the observations of galaxies in the early stages of the universe.
The initial conditions for the simulation came from the “Cold Dark Matter” cosmological model with parameter values obtained from measurements of the cosmic microwave background – the heat left over from the Big Bang.
Dark matter accumulates in clumps within which galaxies form. Gas falling into these dark matter clumps cools and forms stars. The simulation showed that the tremendous energy injected into galaxies by exploding massive stars and accreting supermassive black holes ultimately shape galaxies.
It demonstrated that spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, emerge naturally in a Universe that conforms to the Cold Dark Matter model.
This significant Royal Astronomical Society Group award recognises the outstanding achievement by our academics in providing valuable insight into the formation of galaxies using numerical simulations.
The Group award also reflects the strong collaborative nature of the project, that involved scientists from 6 countries.
The award symbolises our high-calibre research in Physics and aligns with the extraordinary work of our world-class scientists.