have about physics beyond the standard model of particle physics comes from astrophysics; particle and astrophysical theorists are collaborating to push back the frontiers of fundamental physics. As an example, particle physics theory provides the prime candidates for potential dark matter particles (weakly interacting massive particles and axions) with properties that are constrained by both high-energy physics and cosmology.

  • Large numerical simulations are increasingly central to progress in astrophysics. Rapid advances in computational capabilities enable the large-scale computations needed to understand the complex phenomena being uncovered by current telescopes. They will be essential for predicting and understanding gravitational wave signals, and will enable three-dimensional simulations of supernova explosions and of the formation of the first stars in the universe, for example (Figure 5.2).

  • As the cost and scope of new observational facilities have grown, theorists have played an increasing role in their conceptual development, in making the science case for funding them, and in analyzing the results. Examples include new gravitational wave observatories and modeling of the distribution of stable planetary systems to inform future searches.

  • Theorists provide visualizations of complex physical phenomena that facilitate deeper understanding, that are appealing to the general public, and that attract talented young people to the field.

FIGURE 5.2 Simulated image of gravitational radiation from two merging black holes using NASA’s Columbia supercomputer. A movie of this simulation can be found at http://www.nas.nasa.gov/News/Archive/2006/08-09-06.html. SOURCE: Chris Henze, NASA.

FIGURE 5.2 Simulated image of gravitational radiation from two merging black holes using NASA’s Columbia supercomputer. A movie of this simulation can be found at http://www.nas.nasa.gov/News/Archive/2006/08-09-06.html. SOURCE: Chris Henze, NASA.



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