A (simulated) Universe for Everybody – IllustrisTNG releases Petabyte data set
One of the largest and most detailed simulations of the cosmos has released most of its data to the public, as described in an article that has just been published.
The IllustrisTNG family of simulations is the closest astronomers have yet gotten to recreating a whole universe in a computer. These simulations include not only the ubiquitous Dark Matter, believed to be the most common form of matter in our cosmos, but gas in and between galaxies, stars, and even large-scale magnetic fields.
Now, in what is one of the largest astronomical data sets ever released, the IllustrisTNG team are making more than 1 Petabyte of their data available to the public. One Petabyte corresponds to 1000 Terabytes, or a million Gigabytes. Users can register at http://www.tng-project.org/data/ to obtain access to the data.
The IllustrisTNG simulation is special for the diversity of length scales it includes: Not only the largest possible structures in the cosmos, tens of millions of light-years, but details right down to the scale of structures within galaxies, less than a few thousand light-years. This makes for diverse applications within astronomy – from studies of the large-scale structure of the universe to studies of galaxy formation, star formation within galaxies, or the intergalactic medium.
The data release is accompanied by an accompanying article in the journal Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology, which has just been published. The current data release concerns the TNG300 and TNG100 data sets; the even more fine-grained simulation TNG50 will follow in due course. The data sets themselves have been available to the public since December 2018. The data is not only available for download, but can also be explored interactively, using a Google-Map-Like online interface and even a three-dimensional fly-through representation of the galactic halos within the IllustrisTNG universe, accessible at http://www.tng-project.org/explore/