An international team of researchers has created the most complete visual simulation of how the Universe evolved.
The computer model shows how the first galaxies formed around clumps of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter.
It is the first time that the Universe has been modelled so extensively and to such great resolution.
The research has been published in the journal Nature.
The simulation will provide a test bed for emerging theories of what the Universe is made of and what makes it tick.
One of the world's leading authorities on galaxy formation, Professor Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, described the simulation as "fabulous".
"Now we can get to grips with how stars and galaxies form and relate it to dark matter," he told BBC News.
The computer model draws on the theories of Professor Carlos Frenk of Durham University, UK, who said he was "pleased" that a computer model should come up with such a good result assuming that it began with dark matter.
"You can make stars and galaxies that look like the real thing. But it is the dark matter that is calling the shots".
Cosmologists have been creating computer models of how the Universe evolved for more than 20 years. It involves entering details of what the Universe was like shortly after the Big Bang, developing a computer program which encapsulates the main theories of cosmology and then letting the programme run.
The simulated Universe that comes out at the other end is usually a very rough approximation of what astronomers really see.The latest simulation, however, comes up with the Universe that is strikingly like the real one.
Immense computing power has been used to recreate this virtual Universe. It would take a normal laptop nearly 2,000 years to run the simulation. However, using state-of-the-art supercomputers and clever software called Arepo, researchers were able to crunch the numbers in three months.
Written By: Pallab Ghosh
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