Andrew Wetzel, University of California, Davis
Within the cosmic web, galaxies like our own Milky Way form as hydrogen gas flows in along cosmic filaments into dark-matter halos. This gas fuels the formation of stars, while the resultant feedback from stars drives strong outflows of gas. Understanding this complex interplay between cosmic inflows and feedback-driven outflows is one of the most significant topics in astrophysics, and it requires a new generation of supercomputer simulations that can achieve high dynamic range to resolve the scales of stars within a cosmological setting. I will describe our massively parallelized cosmological simulations, run on the country's largest supercomputers, that model the physics of galaxy formation at unprecedented resolution. I will discuss new insight into the formation of our Milky Way galaxy, including the faint "dwarf" galaxies observed around it. These low-mass galaxies trace structure formation on the smallest cosmological scales and have presented the most significant challenges to the cold dark matter (CDM) paradigm. I will describe how these new generations of simulations are allowing us to shed light on dark matter.
Flyer PDF: wetzel_andrew_physics_flyer.pdf