Within 24 hours of accessing the initial stage of Australias newest supercomputing system, researchers have processed a number of radio telescope observations, including an extremely detailed image of a supernova remnant.
The high data rates and the enormous data volumes from new-generation radio telescopes such as for exampleASKAP (opens in new tab)(Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder) need highly capable software running on supercomputers. That’s where the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre is necessary, with anewly launched supercomputer called Setonix (opens in new tab) named after Western Australias favourite animal,the quokka (opens in new tab)(Setonix brachyurus).
ASKAP, which includes 36 dish antennas that interact as you telescope, is operated by Australias national science agency CSIRO; the observational data it gathers are transferred via high-speed optical fibres to the Pawsey Centre for processing and converting into science-ready images.
In a significant milestone in relation to full deployment, we now have demonstrated the integration of our processing software ASKAPsoft on Setonix, filled with stunning visuals.
Traces of a dying star
A thrilling upshot of this exercise is a fantastic image of a cosmic object referred to as a supernova remnant,G261.9+5.5 (opens in new tab).
Estimated to become more when compared to a million yrs . old, and located 10,000-15,000 light-years from us, this object inside our galaxy wasfirst classified (opens in new tab)as a supernova remnant by CSIRO radio astronomer Eric R. Hill in 1967, using observations from CSIROsParkes Radio Telescope, Murriyang (opens in new tab).
Supernova remnants (SNRs) will be the remains of powerful explosions from dying stars. The ejected material from the explosion ploughs outwards in to the surrounding interstellar medium at supersonic speeds, sweeping up gas and any material it encounters on the way, compressing and heating them up along the way.
Additionally, the shockwave would also compress the interstellar magnetic fields. The emissions we see inside our radio image of G261.9+5.5 are from highly energetic electrons trapped in these compressed fields. They bear information regarding the annals of the exploded star and areas of the encompassing interstellar medium.
The structure of the remnant revealed in the deep ASKAP radio image opens up the chance of studying this remnant and the physical properties (such as for example magnetic fields and high-energy electron densities) of the interstellar medium in unprecedented detail.
Putting a supercomputer through its paces
The image of SNR G261.9+05.5 may be beautiful to check out, however the processing of data from ASKAPs astronomy surveys can be a terrific way to stress-test the supercomputer system, like the hardware and the processing software.
We included the supernova remnants dataset for the initial tests because its complex features would raise the processing challenges.
Data processing despite having a supercomputer is really a complex exercise, with different processing modes triggering various potential issues. For instance, the image of the SNR was created by combining data gathered at a huge selection of different frequencies (or colours, if you want), allowing us to obtain a composite view of the thing.
But there exists a treasure trove of information hidden in the average person frequencies aswell. Extracting that information often requires making images at each frequency, requiring more computing resources and much more digital space to store.
While Setonix has adequate resources for such intense processing, an integral challenge is always to establish the stability of the supercomputer when lashed with such large numbers of data day in and day trip.
Key for this quick first demonstration was the close collaboration between your Pawsey Centre and the ASKAP science data processing associates. Our teamwork enabled most of us to raised understand these challenges and quickly find solutions.
These results mean we are in a position to unearth more from the ASKAP data, for instance.
But that is only the initial of two installation stages for Setonix, with the next likely to be completed later this season.
This can allow data teams to process more of the vast levels of data to arrive from many projects in a fraction of that time period. In turn, you won’t only enable researchers to raised understand our Universe but will certainly uncover new objects hidden in the air sky. All of the scientific questions that Setonix allows us to explore in shorter time-frames opens up so many possibilities.
This upsurge in computational capacity benefits not only ASKAP, but all Australia-based researchers in every fields of science and engineering that may access Setonix.
As the supercomputer is ramping around full operations, so is ASKAP, that is currently overall a number of pilot surveys and can soon undertake even larger and deeper surveys of the sky.
The supernova remnant is merely among the many features weve now revealed, and we are able to expect a lot more stunning images, and the discovery of several new celestial objects, ahead soon.
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I’m supercomputing applications specialist and researcher at the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre.
I obtained a PhD in Astrophysics from Queens University, Kingston Ontario, Canada. My research background is in numerical astrophysics, where I explored the physics governing the Universe through complex virtual universes. I’m thinking about cosmology and galaxy formation and also developing algorithms for use on supercomputers. I developed a thorough history of developing astronomical software for HPC systems within my research.
I now seek to utilize my knowledge and experience using supercomputers to greatly help other researchers, enabling science from the wide selection of fields.