A time-lapse video showing 13 billion years of history in six minutes has been dubbed the most realistic simulation of the formation of the universe.

The simulation, called Illustris, is the first realistic virtual universe made with a computer and was created by scientists at the MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.

Published in the journal Nature, it shows 13 billion years of "cosmic evolution" in a cube of 350 million light years.

Previously scientists have been unable to create such a simulation because they lacked the technology and an understanding of the underlying physics of the universe.