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“Galactic Bloom” Takes 2nd Place & Student Choice Award in ‘Beauty of Science’ Contest

Astrophysics doctoral students Zach Hafen and Alex Gurvich have taken home the prizes for second place and Student Choice Award in the Science in Society 2018 scientific images contest. Both work in the Galaxy Formation Group at Northwestern with Professor Claude-André Faucher-Giguère.

The contest winners represent advances across a wide range of disciplines including medicine, chemistry, engineering, physics and astronomy. View the contest gallery to see more visualizations showcasing both the breathtaking beauty and scientific innovation of contemporary research.

Continue to the Office for Research News Article.



“Galactic Bloom”


“This cosmic flower was not grown in nature, but by astrophysicists using supercomputers. At the center of the flower, a simulated galaxy shines in bright yellow. The galaxy is surrounded by multi-colored petals, representing different origins and consisting of many smaller lines; each is a record of the path of matter through space.

Simulations like this one help scientists understand the cosmic origin story of Earth’s ingredients by breaking down the life of the material before it became the world as we know it.”

  • Alex Gurvich and Zach Hafen, Department of Physics and Astronomy and Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration & Research in Astrophysics (CIERA)

Tools & Techniques: Stampede2 Supercomputer, Firefly Visualization Software, FIRE Simulations