Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 2 (Feb 2000)

Insight - 2/00

Although they're not edible, cosmological pancakes are widely appealing, particularly to researchers investigating the role of these galactic objects in the evolution of the universe. During the formation of galaxies, secondary energy releases can cause explosions, which in turn impact other matter, including cosmological pancakes, which form as a result of disturbances in plane-wave density. Further gravitational changes can cause these pancakes to collapse. Scientists suspect that during such a collapse, stars form in the highest density regions and some of these stars explode in supernovae.

To model a pancake collapse in a numerical simulation, researchers inject thermal energy into the simulation particles when they reach a critical density. In this visualization of the simulation results, the blue surface represents a gas density that is 200 times higher than average, the red area represents temperature, whereby the more opaque the region, the higher the temperature, and the white isocontour shows a high-pressure area.

-Diana Phillips Mahoney