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Stunning image of the remains of an exploding star processed by a new Australian computer

The researchers processed the radio telescope observations, including a highly detailed image of the remnant of a supernova (exploding star) within 24 hours of reaching the first stage of Australia’s latest supercomputing system. The very high data rates and huge data volumes of new generation radio telescopes need Like ASKAP, to high-powered programs running on supercomputers.

And according to RT, that’s where the Pawsey Center for Supercomputing Research is working with a newly launched supercomputer called Setonix after Western Australia’s favorite animal, the quokka (Setonix brachyurus).

ASKAP, which consists of 36 antenna plates working together as a single telescope, is operated by CSIRO, the Australian National Science Agency; The monitoring data it collects is transmitted via high-speed fiber optics to the Baozi Center for processing and conversion into images ready for science.

The exciting result is an impressive image of a cosmic object known as the supernova remnant, G261.9 + 5.5.

Estimated to be over a million years old and located 10,000-15,000 light-years away from us, this object in our galaxy was first classified as a supernova remnant by CSIRO radio astronomer Eric R. Hill in 1967, using observations from CSIRO’s Parkes Telescope. Radio, Moriyang.

The material ejected from the explosion seeps outward into the surrounding interstellar medium at supersonic speeds, sweeping away gas and any material it encounters along the way, compressing and heating it in the process.

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

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

It might be nice to look at an image of SNR G261.9 + 05.5, but processing data from ASKAP’s astronomy surveys is also a great way to stress-test a supercomputer, including hardware and processing software.

The supernova remnant dataset was included in our initial tests because its complex features will increase processing challenges.


Processing data even with a supercomputer is a complex exercise, with different processing modes giving rise to many potential problems. For example, an SNR image was created by combining data collected at hundreds of different frequencies (or colours, if you like), allowing us to obtain a composite view of the object.

However, there is a treasure trove of information hidden in individual frequencies as well, and extracting this information often requires making images at each frequency, which requires more computing resources and more digital space for storage.

And while Setonix has enough resources for such intensive processing, the main challenge is stabilizing the supercomputer when it comes into contact with such massive amounts of data day in and day out.

Key to this quick first demonstration was the close collaboration between the Pawsey Center and members of the ASKAP Scientific Data Processing Team.

These results mean that we will be able to discover more ASKAP data, for example.

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

This will allow data teams to process more massive amounts of data from many projects in a short time, and in turn, will not only enable 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 shorter time frames opens up many possibilities.

This increase in computational power benefits not only ASKAP, but all Australian-based researchers in all fields of science and engineering who have access to Setonix.

And while the supercomputer is ramping up its entire operations, ASKAP, which is currently concluding a series of experimental surveys, will soon be conducting larger and deeper sky surveys.

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