New astrophysics and particle physics supercomputer coming to Leicester
Funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the new Leicester computer will be part of the STFC’s DiRAC* facility. Our Theoretical Astrophysics Group was a founder member of the DiRAC consortium, which will also have supercomputers at Cambridge, Durham and Edinburgh.
Each new computer has been designed to answer specific science questions. The design of the Leicester machine will enable it to handle the most complex astrophysics simulations, such as simulations of the birth of stars or the growth of black holes.
Once operational, the new Leicester supercomputer will be jointly managed by our IT Services and our Department of Physics and Astronomy. Hewlett-Packard has been confirmed as the hardware supplier. Together with the three other computers it will lead to important new insights into the origins of galaxies and stars, as well as to study black holes and dark matter.
*The name DiRAC stands for ‘Distributed Research utilising Advanced Computing’. It also honours the British physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984) who, among other achievements, predicted the existence of antimatter and shared the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics with Erwin Schrödinger.
Image: The image above shows a simulation of a galaxy-wide outflow breaking up to form stars. The supermassive black hole at the centre of this galaxy is swallowing large amounts of gas; the gas radiates and pushes the surrounding material outwards in a large-scale outflow. The outflow is unable to escape the galaxy, however, but instead breaks apart into dense clumps, seen as bright knots in the web of filaments. Stars form vigorously in these knots, building the galaxy with the help of a black hole at its core. Figure taken from Nayakshin & Zubovas (in preparation)