SHARCNET @ Conestoga Seminar Series
Title: Advances in Galactic Dynamics — Classical Physics in the 21st Century
Speaker: John Dubinski, Computing Manager and Adjunct Professor, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Abstract: During the past 30 years, there have been tremendous advances in computational power and algorithmic efficiency in the numerical N-body problem. Despite the vast scale of the universe, Newton’s original equations of motion along with his inverse-square law of gravity still provide an adequate physical framework for studying many of the complexities of the dynamic universe. In this presentation, I will review some of the recent advances in parallel computational algorithms for application to the collisionless N-body problem with main applications to the problem of the dynamics of galaxies and cosmological structure formation. The cosmological paradigm of cold dark matter with a cosmological constant is now so well-constrained that in principle detailed predictions of the dynamical behavior of galaxies can be tested against observation. Current simulations including dark matter and gas can now follow the collapse of primordial density fluctuations in the early universe and their transformation into galaxies. I will describe some recent methods that can be used to construct realistic, self-consistent N-body models of disk galaxies and some applications of these methods for studying the evolution of the individual spiral galaxies, interacting groups and the evolution of our Local Group of galaxies. I will overview some current efforts by various groups to simulate large volumes of the universe with sufficient numerical resolution to follow the formation of individual galaxies. I will also present some work on high-resolution computer animation of galactic dynamics that helps illustrate and develop intuition about dynamical processes in galaxies.
Biography: John Dubinski has been a student of astronomy for more than 35 years, beginning as an enthusiastic amateur observer as a teenager. He is an expert in the application of N-body methods to the study of galaxy formation and dynamics and is a pioneer in the development of N-body algorithms on parallel supercomputers. He currently is the computer facilities manager for Canadian Institute of Astrophysics and is an adjunct professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto.
For more information on this talk or SHARCNET @ Conestoga Seminar Series, contact Dalibor Dvorski.