Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomer employs HPC to peer into cosmic mysteries

15.10.2010
OSU’s Kazantzidis studies the behavior of galaxies, black holes through modeling & simulation at the Ohio Supercomputer Center

An Ohio State University astronomer is working to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding the formation of vast galaxies and the evolution of massive black holes with his own large constellation of silicon wafers.

Over the last year, two research teams led by Stelios Kazantzidis, a Long-Term Fellow at the Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP) at The Ohio State University, have used what would average out to nearly 1,000 computing hours each day on the parallel high performance computing systems of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC).

To develop their detailed models and resulting simulations, Kazantzidis and his colleagues tapped OSC’s flagship system, the Glenn IBM Cluster 1350, which features more than 9,600 Opteron cores and 24 terabytes of memory.

Kazantzidis and University of Zurich student Simone Callegari recently authored a paper, “Growing Massive Black Hole Pairs in Minor Mergers of Disk Galaxies,” and submitted it for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. Their study involved a suite of high-resolution, smoothed-particle hydrodynamics simulations of merging disk galaxies with supermassive black holes (SMBHs). These simulations include the effects of star formation and growth of the SMBHs, as well as feedback from both processes.

“Binary SMBHs are very important, because once they form there is always the possibility that the two black holes may subsequently merge,” Kazantzidis explained. “Merging SMBHs will produce the strongest signal of gravitational wave emission in the universe.

Gravitational waves have not yet been directly detected, although Einstein predicted them in his Theory of General Relativity.”

The astronomers found that the mass ratios of SMBH pairs in the centers of merged galaxies do not necessarily relate directly to the ratios they had to their original host galaxies, but are “a consequence of the complex interplay between accretion of matter (stars and gas) onto them and the dynamics of the merger process.” As a result, one of the two SMBHs can grow in mass much faster than the other.

Kazantzidis believes simulations of the formation of binary SMBHs have the potential to open a new window into astrophysical and physical phenomena that cannot be studied in other ways and might help to verify general relativity, one of the most fundamental theories of physics.

Kazantzidis and his colleagues also recently developed sophisticated computer models to simulate the formation of dwarf spheroidal galaxies, which are satellites of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The study concluded that, in a majority of cases, disk-like dwarf galaxies – known in the field as disky dwarfs – experience significant loss of mass as they orbit inside their massive hosts, and their stellar distributions undergo a dramatic morphological, as well as dynamical, transformation: from disks to spheroidal systems.

“These galaxies are very important for astrophysics, because they are the most dark matter-dominated galaxies in the universe,” Kazantzidis said. “Understanding their formation can shed light into the very nature of dark matter. Environmental processes like the interactions between dwarf galaxies and their massive hosts we’ve been investigating should be included as ingredients in future models of dwarf galaxy formation and evolution.”

For this project, Kazantzidis, Callegari, Ewa Lokas of the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center – all of whom utilized the Glenn Cluster – and the rest of the team have submitted to the Astrophysical Journal an article titled, “On the Efficiency of the Tidal Stirring Mechanism for the Origin of Dwarf Spheroidals: Dependence on the Orbital and Structural Parameters of the Progenitor Disky Dwarfs.”

Supercomputing centers such as OSC allow astronomers to create extremely sophisticated models that are not feasible on desktop systems. However, even with supercomputers, Kazantzidis and his colleagues find that simulating the multitude of elements involved in these galactic processes remains an enormous challenge.

“Our models can only follow a small subset of, say, the stars in a galaxy,” he explained. “For example, a galaxy like our Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars, and even the most sophisticated numerical simulations to date can only simulate a tiny fraction of this number. The situation becomes increasingly more difficult in simulations that involve dark matter. This is because the dark matter particle is an elementary particle and, therefore, it is much less massive than a star.

A galaxy like the Milky Way contains of the order of 1067 dark matter particles (that is, the number one followed by 67 zeros).”

The goal of Kazantzidis’ team is to develop representations of galaxies that are as accurate as possible. Access to the Glenn Cluster increases the number of objects (or simulation particles) that can be depicted in the model, enhancing their ability to perform accurate and meaningful calculations.

“The powerful hardware and software available at OSC are particularly well-suited for cutting-edge astronomy research, such as that being conducted by Dr. Kazantzidis,” said Ashok Krishnamurthy, interim co-executive director and director of research at OSC. “The results he and his colleagues have been able to achieve through their research projects are impressive and firmly demonstrate the Center’s ability to help accelerate innovation and discovery.”

These projects were funded by CCAPP, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and by an allocation of computing time from OSC.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries, providing a reliable high performance computing and high performance networking infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government. Funded by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For more, visit www.osc.edu.

The Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP) at The Ohio State University builds on the unique relationship between the OSU Departments of Astronomy and Physics to pursue research at the interface of cosmology, astrophysics, and high energy physics. CCAPP research initiatives include dark energy (DES-LSST-SNAP), "multi-messenger" astro-particle physics (GLAST,AUGER,ANITA), dark matter, and the birth and growth of the Universe. For more, visit ccapp.mps.ohio-state.edu .

Mr. Jamie Abel, APR
Media and Communications Director
Ohio Supercomputer Center
1224 Kinnear Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212-1163
Office: 614-292-6495
Mobile: 614-886-1813
Internet: jabel@osc.edu

Jamie Abel | Ohio Supercomputer Center
Further information:
http://www.osc.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>