Stunning image of a supernova remnant processed by a new Australian supercomputer

(ORDO NEWS) — Within 24 hours of accessing the first stage of Australia’s latest supercomputing system, the researchers processed a series of radio telescope observations, including a very detailed image of the supernova remnant.

The very high data rates and huge data volumes from new generation radio telescopes such as the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) require powerful software running on supercomputers.

This is where the Pawsey Supercomputer Research Center comes into play, launching a supercomputer called Setonix, named after Western Australia’s favorite animal, the quokka ( Setonix brachyurus ).

ASKAP, which consists of 36 parabolic antennas working together as one telescope, is operated by the Australian national science agency CSIRO; the observational data it collects is sent over high-speed optical fibers to the Pawsey Center for processing and conversion into science-ready images.

A major milestone towards full rollout is that we have demonstrated the integration of our ASKAPsoft processing software into Setonix with stunning visuals.

Traces of a dying star

The exciting result of this exercise was a fantastic image of a cosmic object known as a supernova remnant, G261.9+5.5.

This object in our galaxy, estimated to be a million years old and 10,000 to 15,000 light-years away, was first classified as a supernova. remnant taken by CSIRO radio astronomer Eric R. Hill in 1967 using observations from the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Murriyang.

Supernova remnants (SNRs) are the remnants of powerful explosions from dying stars. Material ejected from the explosion rushes out into the surrounding interstellar medium at supersonic speeds, sweeping away the gas and any material it encounters, compressing and heating them in the process.

Stunning image of a supernova remnant processed by a new Australian supercomputer 2
Galactic supernova remnant G261.9+5.5

In addition, the shock wave will also compress interstellar magnetic fields. The bursts we see in our G261.9+5.5 radio image come from high-energy electrons trapped in these squeezed fields. They carry information about the history of the exploded star and aspects of the surrounding interstellar medium.

The structure of this remnant, revealed in the ASKAP deep radio image, opens up the possibility of studying this remnant and its physical properties (such as magnetic fields and high-energy electron density) of the interstellar medium in unprecedented detail.

Supercomputer test

The G261.9+05.5 SNR image may be beautiful to look at, but ASKAP data processing is also a great way to stress test a supercomputer system, including processing hardware and software.

We included the supernova remnant dataset for our study. initial tests because its complex features will increase processing problems.

Processing data even with a supercomputer is a complex task, with different processing modes causing different potential problems.

For example, the SNR image was obtained by combining data collected at hundreds of different frequencies (or colors, if you will), which allowed us to obtain a composite image of the object.

But there is a storehouse of information hidden in individual frequencies. Extracting this information often requires creating images at each frequency, which requires more computing resources and more digital storage space.

While Setonix has sufficient resources for such intensive processing, ensuring the stability of the supercomputer when it is faced with such huge amounts of data day in and day out will be a key challenge.

A key factor in this rapid first demonstration was the close collaboration between the Posey Center and members of the ASKAP Scientific Data Processing Group. Our joint work has allowed all of us to better understand these problems and quickly find solutions.

These results mean that we will be able to extract more information from, for example, the ASKAP data.

More will come

But this is only the first of two phases of the Setonix installation, with the second expected to be completed later this year.

This will allow data processing teams to process more data coming from many projects in a fraction of the time. In turn, this will not only allow researchers to better understand our Universe, but will undoubtedly reveal new objects hidden in the radio sky.

The variety of scientific questions that Setonix will allow us to explore in a shorter amount of time opens up so many possibilities.

This increase in computing power not only benefits ASKAP, but all Australian researchers in all fields of science. and development that can access Setonix.

While the supercomputer is reaching full capacity, ASKAP is currently completing a series of pilot studies and will soon conduct even larger and deeper sky surveys. .

The supernova remnant is just one of many features we have discovered, and we can expect many more stunning images and the discovery of many new celestial objects in the near future.


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