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­sing Artificial Intelligence to Chart the ­niverse

By Royal Astronomical Society

September 27, 2012

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Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to help chart and explain the structure and dynamics of the universe.

The universe consists of 5 percent normal matter, 23 percent dark matter, and 72 percent dark energy. "Finding the dark matter distribution corresponding to a galaxy catalog is like trying to make a geographical map of Europe from a satellite image during the night that only shows the light coming from dense populated areas," says Leibniz researcher Francisco Kitaura.

The algorithm starts with the fluctuations in the density of the universe seen in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, then models the way that matter collapses into today's galaxies over the subsequent 13 billion years. "Our precise calculations show that the direction of motion and 80 percent of the speed of the galaxies that make up the Local Group can be explained by the gravitational forces that arise from matter up to 370 million light years away," Kitaura says. He also notes that "with the help of AI, we can now model the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy and study how the largest structures in the cosmos came into being."

From Royal Astronomical Society
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