The new generation of radio telescopes like the ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) are capable of capturing a huge amount of data, but they need computers that are equally capable of processing this volume of information. The new Setonixthe supercomputer Pawsey Supercomputing Research Center, an Australian research institute, has just been launched for this purpose. And it made its debut by processing an extremely detailed image of a supernova remnant.
It is about G261.9+5.5, remnant of a powerful supernova explosion. The material ejected from the explosion spreads out into the surrounding interstellar medium at supersonic speeds, sweeping up the gas and any material it encounters along the way, compressing and heating it in the process. This specific remnant is estimated to be over a million years old and located between 10 and 15 thousand light years from Earth.
The image results excited the researchers, and this is just the first of two stages operating system of the Setonix supercomputer, whose name is a reference to the Setonix brachyurusO quokka, an animal from the west of Australia that is popular on social media. The next stage should be completed by the end of this year.
The researchers’ excitement is justified. The ASKAP consists of 36 antennas that work together as a single telescope and is operated by CSIRO, the Australian space agency. With the new supercomputer, all data captured by the telescope will be processed in a fraction of the time it takes today, and Setonix’s capacity is so great that it could reveal new objects hidden in the radio waves captured by the equipment.