Mapping the Universe with CHPC Resources
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey makes use of the University of Utah's Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC) parallel computing resources to help with its mission to map the Universe, from our Solar System through the Milky Way Galaxy, and beyond. Building on fifteen years of discovery, the fourth phase of SDSS (SDSS-IV) recently had two public data releases including DR14 earlier this year.
In SDSS-IV the survey expands its reach in three different ways:
- We observe a million stars in both the Northern and Southern skies by including a second telescope in Chile. SDSS now uses both the 2.5m Sloan telescope in New Mexico, and the 2.5m du Pont Telescope in Las Campanas, Chile.
- We observe millions of galaxies and quasars at previously unexplored distances to map the large-scale structure in the Universe 5 billion years ago, and to understand the nature of Dark Energy.
- We use new instrumentation to collect multiple high-resolution spectra within 10,000 nearby galaxies, to discover how galaxies grow and evolve over billions of years of cosmic history.
University of Utah astronomers are a core part of this international collaboration. Joel Brownstein, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is the Principal Data Scientist, making sure that the SDSS data reduction pipelines run smoothly, and that the data products are easily accessible both within the team and publicly. Professor Kyle Dawson and postdoctoral fellows are also involved, working on instrumentation to map the distant Universe. Professor Gail Zasowski and her research group use SDSS observations of stars within our home Milky Way Galaxy to understand when and how they formed, and how our Galaxy is changing over time.