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Astronomy research

Astronomy research gets a boost

Daniel BuenoThis month sees one of the world’s largest and most powerful computer clusters aimed exclusively at astronomical research go on-stream. Valued at more than US$ 1 million, the equipment is installed at the University of São Paulo (USP) Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG) and was acquired with funding from FAPESP through the Multi-User Equipment Program, as part of a project between IAG-USP and Unicsul’s Theoretical Astrophysics Center (NAT). Consisting of three towers, this set of computers has 2.3 thousand processing cores overall. The cluster previously used by the institution had a mere 40 processing cores. “We don’t know of any other astronomy department in the world with this computing capacity. There are universities and consortiums including research institutions that have much larger clusters, but the processing time is split between various areas and is not reserved only for astronomy,” said Alex Carciofi, a professor at USP and the person in charge of the project’s implementation, to Agência FAPESP. According to him, the computer cluster will make it possible to run more mathematical models (numerical simulations), which are used to study astronomical systems, such as stars, galaxies and interstellar mediums.