Astronomers and astrophysicists try to answer questions such as how did space, time, matter and energy take the form that we see today, and, can we work backwards to unravel the history of the universe. Answers are sought using NERSC for both simulation and experimental analysis of some of the most cataclysmic and some of the most subtle features of the universe.
Understanding the explosion mechanism of supernovae has been one of the great challenges of astrophysics for nearly 50 years. The light from the explosions can be seen with telescopes and supernovae are basically the origin of nearly all heavy elements in the cosmos. Some supernova explosions cause gamma-ray or X-ray bursts and some leave behind exotic remnants such as neutron stars and black holes. Because of their brilliance, supernovae are often used as "standard candles" in determining the size and expansion rate of a universe powered by dark energy. Despite their importance and decades of study, the explosion mechanisms for supernovae are poorly understood. Numerical simulation is currently the dominant tool in theoretical astrophysics and cosmology and recent studies carried out at NERSC may place us on the verge of breakthrough.
Case studies below highlight the use of NERSC's extreme scale computing facilities for both simulation and expermental astrophysics.
Astronomers hope to make tremendous strides toward illuminating the nature and origins of dark matter and energy by analyzing data from the Planck spacecraft. NERSC will continue its long tradition of supporting these studies via Cosmic Microwave Background simulation and data analysis. Read More »