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Evolution of a Virgo cluster size system in the CDM universe with dark energy

Formation of a cluster of galaxies quite similar in size and mass to the Virgo cluster. The region shown here is about 3 megaparsecs. Particles show the distribution of dark matter with the brightness indicating the local density on a logarithmic stretch. The bright clumps of particles are the dense sites where galaxies are expected to form. Our "camera" is tracking the progenitor of the cluster so that it is always near the center of the field of view. The formation of objects proceeds hierarchically in the Cold Dark Matter models. Small-mass objects form first at z>5, they quickly grow in size and violently merge with each other, creating increasingly larger and larger system. This galactic "cannibalism" persists even to the present day epoch (z=0). You see two massive objects merge at z~0.5. Note that many of the "cannibalized" systems do not loose their identity and become satellites orbiting in the gravitational pull of larger systems.

Questions and comments: Andrey Kravtsov (andrey@oddjob.uchicago.edu)

You can use this material if you include the proper credit:
simulations and visualizations were performed at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum
by Stefan Gottloeber (Astrophysical Institute Potsdam)