D2D: Star Formation at Cosmic Dawn
Data to Discovery seminar is resuming in September 2022 and promises to be an interesting deep dive into the early days of the Universe.
Abstract of the talk
Theory and simulation suggest that the very first generation of stars to form in the Universe were predominantly much more massive than the sun. However, these predictions are in stark contrast to observations of the local Universe, where the vast majority of stars are smaller than the sun and those significantly more massive are vanishingly rare. This transition in star formation took place in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang when galaxies were first starting to form, an era known as Cosmic Dawn. Studying this epoch requires modelling several nonlinear physical processes and is thus primarily the domain of complex computer simulations. In this talk, I will show how we are able to simulate the formation of the first "modern" stars from initial conditions that represent the state of the Universe shortly after the Big Bang. These simulations produce large and complex data, including 3D multi-resolution "snapshots" with extreme dynamic range (the ratio of the largest to smallest sizes) and "merger trees" which describe the hierarchical growth of cosmic structures. I will discuss some of the open-source tools that we have developed to improve and simplify our analysis of this data and ways in which they can be extended to other scientific domains.
About the speaker
Britton Smith is a computational astrophysicist in the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh. He got his PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2007 from Penn State University and held postdoctoral and research scientist positions in Colorado, Michigan, Edinburgh and California before returning to Edinburgh in 2019 as a Chancellor's Fellow. Britton studies the formation of the first stars and galaxies using computer simulations and is a developer of several open-source scientific software packages.