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Summer Science Exhibition 2016 | Monday 4 July - Sunday 10 July | London

Galaxy Makers: how do you build a galaxy?

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Use a virtual reality headset to explore the EAGLE simulation of the formation of galaxies. 
  • Make holographic images of galaxies to find out why they appear in different shapes.     
  • Learn what a galaxy is by combining model ingredients.

Find out more

Understanding how galaxies are made remains one of astronomy’s greatest puzzles. Our exhibit showcases how we use supercomputer simulations to test how galactic ingredients and violent events combine to shape the life history of galaxies.

Galaxies – such as the Milky Way and Andromeda - are vast gravitationally-bound collections of stars, gas and dark matter. Unlike dark energy which dominates the energy budget of the Universe, galaxies contain stuff that we are familiar with and which can readily be seen. However, understanding how galaxies are made and the role of dark matter remains one of the greatest challenges facing astronomers. The solution is being uncovered with the help of supercomputer simulations. Starting with the basic laws of physics, we follow how dark matter assembles, how gasses cool and make stars and how violent processes like the death of stars and the formation of huge black holes shape the life histories of galaxies.

Find out more about Galaxy Makers and see a model of a spiral galaxy.

Presented by: Durham University, Leiden University, Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, Newcastle University