Q&A with Lucio Mayer about ERIS, the first simulation of the birth of the Milky Way

Lucio Mayer and his team simulated for the first time worldwide the birth of the Milky Way. The results stimulated many discussions in online forums. Lucio answers our questions.

  • Lucio, this is the first simulation that allows reproducing the birth and evolution of a Milky Way-like galaxy. What are the main difficulties and challenges in achieving such results? Why couldn’t we get to this point before?
  • How can we be confident that this is the way things actually took place? Can we compare to real objects that we observe in the sky?
  • You spoke about the key-role of Dark Matter in the simulation. What is Dark Matter? Which are the evidences that it exists?
  • Many viewers complained about the low resolution of the movie. Wouldn’t it have been possible to produce a HD movie?
  • The costs of this simulation, in terms of computing systems, power, and work is very high. What’s the return of this effort and its impact on society?
  • What are the main challenges in astrophysics currently studied with the help of the supercomputers?
  • What are the perspectives for this kind of research? What’s still missing in your model? How will you improve it in the future?
  • You stopped your simulation after 13 billion of years. What will happen if you would continue? What will happen in the end?