The large-scale structure of the Universe


Research over the past 25 years has led to the view that the rich tapestry of present-day cosmic structure arose during the first instants of creation, where weak ripples were imposed on the otherwise uniform and rapidly expanding primordial soup. Over 14 billion years of evolution, these ripples have been amplified to enormous proportions by gravitational forces, producing ever-growing concentrations of dark matter in which ordinary gases cool, condense and fragment to make galaxies. This process can be faithfully mimicked in large computer simulations, and tested by observations that probe the history of the Universe starting from just 400,000 years after the Big Bang.

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Figure 1: The galaxy distribution obtained from spectroscopic redshift surveys and from mock catalogues constructed from cosmological simulations.
Figure 2: The Lyman α forest as a probe of large-scale structure.
Figure 3: Variance of the weak lensing shear as a function of top-hat smoothing scale.
Figure 4: Time evolution of the cosmic large-scale structure in dark matter and galaxies, obtained from cosmological simulations of the ΛCDM model.
Figure 5: Two-point correlation function of galaxies and dark matter at different epochs, in the Millennium simulation of structure formation5.
Figure 6: The large-scale autocorrelation function of rich clusters.


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We thank L. van Waerbeke for providing the data of Fig. 3, and R. Angulo for preparing Fig. 6.

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Correspondence to Volker Springel.

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Springel, V., Frenk, C. & White, S. The large-scale structure of the Universe. Nature 440, 1137–1144 (2006).

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