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New Map of the Universe is Based on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Jun 28, 2016 03:34 AM EDT

Scientists were finally able to model the evolution of the universe according to Einstein's theory of relativity.

Independent research teams from the U.S. and Europe, together with cosmologists from the University of Portsmouth, discovered regions of matter "clumped" together to start shaping the first galaxies much earlier than thought. The new model is believed to help explain the origin of the structure of the universe.

"This is a really exciting development that will help cosmologists create the most accurate possible model of the universe," Marco Bruni of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth said in a news release.

"Over the next decade we expect a deluge of new data coming from next generation galaxy surveys, which use extremely powerful telescopes and satellites to obtain high-precision measurements of cosmological parameters -- an area where ICG researchers play a leading role."

Einstein's 100-year-old theory, which describes how mass warps space and time, is still considered the best theory of gravity, successfully explaining the gravitational waves phenomenon and consistently passing high-precision tests in the solar system.

Scientists use the equations to individual objects such as black holes and neutron stars.

However, physicists were struggling to apply the theory's computational techniques on the evolution of the universe itself, and so they were forced to simplify their models using approximations.

But now, the research teams separately created a software that will tackle Einstein's field equations of general relativity. Using the software, the physicists created a homogeneous model of the universe and then ran the clock forward, simulating the evolution.

They saw the clumping of matter in some regions through gravity and noted that the clumps emerged much earlier in the new precise model than those predicted by the approximate models.

Also, they discovered differences in the rate of expansion of the evolving universe. The discovery deviated from the earlier predicted behavior under approximate emodels.

"To match this precision we need theoretical predictions that are not only equally precise, but also accurate at the same level," the scientists said.

"These new computer codes apply general relativity in full and aim precisely at this high level of accuracy, and in future they should become the benchmark for any work that makes simplifying assumptions."

According to Stuart Shapiro, physicist at the University of Illinois who was not involved in the work, these developments are important as they are the "forerunners" in applying this kind of computational modeling to explain the evolution of the universe.

The U.S. and European teams published their work in Physical Review Letters.

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