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Scientific Computing and Visualisation

Accelerating astronomy. Maximising the scientific return from data.

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Modern astronomy is a petascale enterprise. High performance computing applications in astronomy are enabling complex simulations with many billions of particles, while the forthcoming generation of telescopes will collect data at rates in excess of terabytes per day. The immensity of the data demands new approaches and techniques to ensure that standard analysis tasks can be accomplished at all, let alone in reasonable time. Indeed, many of the basic techniques used to analyse, interpret, and explore data will be pushed beyond their breaking points. New approaches are required now, including harnessing novel technologies such as graphics processing units (GPUs) for massively parallel computation, in order to prepare for this large data paradigm shift.

Our research vision is to enhance and accelerate the process of discovery in astronomy through the adoption of novel e-technologies, with an emphasis on overcoming the data analysis and visualisation challenges posed by the impending petascale astronomy data era.

Of particular note are the group's contributions to advancements in:

  • three-dimensional visualisation: the process of turning data into computer-generated images, which can be explored interactively, and analyzed quantitatively;
  • adoption of advanced computing architectures: the application of new computing architectures, particularly GPUs, to accelerate simulation and analysis; and
  • novel e-technologies: the use of large-format tiled displays and gesture-based input devices to enhance presentation, exploration and comprehension of data, and the dissemination of interactive visualisations via 3D-PDF.
We have also transferred our approach to astronomy visualisation to explore and understand the three-dimensional structures of nano-scale surfaces.
6dF Galaxy Survey Data Release 3
S2PLOT visualisation of the 6dF Galaxy Survey. Data courtesy 6dF Team/AAO.
Credit: Swinburne

NVIDIA GPU Research Center

The Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing is recognised as an NVIDIA GPU Research Center, for its pioneering work on adopting GPUs for scientific computing in astronomy.