OCF has designed and built the fourth most powerful university-based cluster in the UK for Durham University students and the wider astrophysics community to look even deeper into the universe and model phenomena ranging from solar flares to the formation of galaxies.
The system – known as Cosma5 – is part of the Distributed Research using Advanced Computing (DiRAC) national facility, and will be used by researchers at universities across the UK including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, St Andrews, Sussex and Warwick, along with researchers abroad in Australia, China, Germany and the Netherlands.
Adrian Jenkins, Cosma project scientist at Durham University, said: “We can use telescopes to ‘watch’ how galaxies are formed but it takes millions of lifetimes. The server cluster is helping us work on this problem much more quickly. We can model a single galaxy in a computer right through its formation process in a few days.
“We are beginning to understand the processes that shape galaxies. With the new cluster we can start to simulate large populations of galaxies and, for the first time in the world, model thousands of galaxies in a single region of the universe all at the same time and with high numerical resolution. A simulation such as this will still take months to run, but with our previous cluster we simply did not have the computing power or the memory to run the model at all.”
He added: “The additional storage capacity provided by COSMA5 is also essential. Over the past three months, one very large research project has already created 700 TeraBytes of data. We may need to return to our research data for further analysis many years after it was first processed, so we cannot remove any data until we are sure it is not needed.”
Julian Fielden, managing director of OCF, said: “Along with exciting the general public and helping members of the public to understand their place in the cosmos, ICC’s research helps raise the profile of science in general and serves as an important factor in motivating young people to become scientists, not just cosmologists."
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