The University of Western Australia (UWA) has launched a high performance computing cluster, dubbed Pople, to support researchers studying gravitational waves following the recent breakthrough in this field of physics.
Comprised of 7.8 terabytes of main memory, 153 terabytes of local scratch disk, 512 gigabytes of RAM, and 2316 cores, the supercomputer can support intensive computational tasks in the areas of physics, chemistry and biology.
The university said gravitational waves is one of the main research areas where this supercomputer would be useful, as it involves analysing a large amount of data coming from telescopes, to look at gravitational waves produced from gamma ray bursts.
The university has strong grounding in this area, having developed methods that were used to make the recent breakthrough by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US. A UWA PhD student, Carl Blair, used a method to carefully heat mirrors and slightly change their shape so that they are sensitive enough to detect gravitational waves from a distance of approximately 200 million light years.
The mirrors played a key part in the recent detection of gravitational waves or ripples that propagate through space-time, which was predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity 100 years ago.
The supercomputer will assist researchers at the UWA-operated Australian International Gravitational Observatory (AIGO) at Gingin, north Perth. Researchers will be able to do fast processing and analysis of the data coming from the AIGO robotic telescope, Zadko.