This simulation — the most detailed look at the structure of the universe yet — carries us through over 13 billion years in the life of the universe (picking up just under half a billion years after the Big Bang) in just two minutes.
The Illustris Simulation is the work of a team led by Mark Vogelberger at MIT using a network of supercomputers. It models, among other things, how the universe expands, how galaxies are formed (including an example of a spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way), and the mechanics of how stars and black holes are formed.
There are a number of applications, but one of the most interesting ones that the team highlighted is that, by comparing the simulation to actual observations, we can get a better idea of how closely our theories about the workings of the universe mirror reality.
The results of the simulation will also be detailed in an article in Nature coming out tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read more about out the Illustris project over at its website.