The History of Cosmic Baryons: Discoveries Using Advanced Computing

Michael L. Norman
Physics Dept., UC San Diego

We live in the era of the cosmological concordance model. This refers to the precise set of cosmological parameters which describe the average composition, geometry, and expansion rate of the universe we live in. Due to recent observational, theoretical, and computational advances, these parameters are now known to approximately 10% accuracy, and new efforts are underway to reduce uncertainties tenfold. It is found that we live in a spatially flat, dark-matter dominated universe whose rate of expansion is accelerating due to an unseen, unknown dark energy field. Baryons, the stuff of stars, galaxies, and you and I, account for only 4% of the total mass-energy inventory. And yet, it is through the astronomical study of baryons that we infer the rest. In this talk I will highlight the important role advanced scientific computing has played in getting us to the concordance model, and also the computational discoveries that have been made about the cosmic history of baryons from hydrodynamical cosmological simulations. I will conclude by discussing the central role that very large scale simulations of cosmological structure formation will play in deciphering the results of upcoming dark energy surveys.