High-resolution computer simulations reveal “flocculating particles”, the first structures to arrive in the early universe.
The first millionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe was a very harsh environment, heated to over a trillion degrees. Scientists cannot observe this moment directly, but can reconstruct it using high-powered computer simulations.
The new simulation, more detailed than ever, shows how gravity caused quantum particles to clump together to form the first structure in the universe, called a bulging particle. These dense and complex structures weigh from a few grams to 20 kg but are “packaged” in a space even smaller than an elementary particle.
“We are exploring an extremely complex phase in the early universe, a time when the universe was rapidly increasing in size. At that time, the universe contained only energy and gas flows – the kind of matter the quantum is formed from a magnetic field of energy that fills space after the Big Bang, ”said study co-author Richard Easther, professor of physics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The team believes that the domed particle structures seen in the simulation are the result of vibrations in this energy field, which later also play an important role in the formation of galactic structures large tissue with a diameter of up to billion light years.
Bulging particles are less likely to last a long time, according to Easther, because they can turn into elementary particles in a fraction of a second. However, with their density 100,000 times that of the surrounding space, their movements and interactions can create ripples in the structure of space-time, called gravitational waves. This discovery will be useful for future gravitational wave detection experiments.
Bulging particles can also collapse under their own weight, creating the universe’s first microscopic black holes, called primitive black holes. Physicists don’t see black holes in their simulations, but plan to run longer and more detailed simulations in the future so they can display such objects.