Fastest supercomputer to unravel universe's secrets

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 29 October 2009, 03:01 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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Washington: Scientists are using the world's fastest supercomputer to model origins of the unseen universe including dark energy. Understanding dark energy is the number one issue in explaining the universe, according to Salman Habib of the Laboratory's Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology Group.

Even though it's looking at only a small segment of the 'accessible' universe, Habib's 'Roadrunner Universe' model requires a petascale computer because like the universe, it's very large, reports ANI. The model's basic unit is a particle with a mass of approximately one billion suns (in order to sample galaxies with masses of about a trillion suns) and it includes more than 64 billion of those particles.

The model is one of the largest simulations of the distribution of matter in the universe, and aims to look at galaxy-scale mass concentrations above and beyond quantities seen in state-of-the-art sky surveys.

According to Habib, as the universe is expanding and at the same time accelerating, either there is a huge gap in our understanding of physics, or there is a strange new form of matter that dominates the universe - 'dark energy' - making up about 70 percent of it. "In addition, there is five times more of an unknown 'dark matter' than there is ordinary matter in the universe, and we know it's there from many different observations, most spectacularly, we've seen it bend light in pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, but its origin is also not understood," he added.

The Roadrunner Universe model relies on a hierarchical grid or particle algorithm that matches the physical aspects of the simulation to the hybrid architecture of Roadrunner. Habib and his team wrote an entirely new computer code that aggressively exploits Roadrunner's hybrid architecture and makes full use of the PowerXCell 8i computational accelerators.

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