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Modeling supernovae: braving a bold new frontier

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The death of a massive star, called a core collapse supernova, is among the most energetic events in the universe, exploding with so much force it can be compared to 1028 individual megaton bombs exploding at once. Researchers need powerful supercomputers capable of generating and storing terabytes and petabytes of data to simulate complex models. The US Department of Energy created the TeraScale Supernova Initiative (TSI) to do just that. The $9 million program - made up of the ORNL and eight US universities - aims to discover exactly how a supernova occurs. The scientists' charge is to perform 3D simulations of the radiation of the enormous amounts of neutrino energy and the resulting turbulent fluid flow that propels elements into space. So far, the team has generated 2D simulations, made possible because of terascale computers. They have created some 3D models, but not to the realistic detail the team needs. The team is using some of the most powerful types of computers available, capable of handling many terabytes of data. With these computers, 4,000 to 5,000 processor hours take just days - as opposed to months with a one-processor supercomputer. The team's computers include Seaborg, located at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, Cheetah, located at the Center for Computational Science at ORNL, and Eagle, also located at ORNL. Use of these three computers and others like it have led to new discoveries by enabling multidimensional simulations.

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 6 )

Date of Publication:

Nov.-Dec. 2003

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