NCI supports some of the world’s most ambitious and successful astronomy research. From international experimental collaborations to ambitious theoretical modelling, Australian astronomy projects have a breadth and depth requiring robust and reliable research infrastructure. Requirements include computational performance for detailed modelling and data processing, virtual environments for data analysis, and large filesystems for the ongoing ingest of daily updates of telescope data.

Australia’s astronomy community has access to incredible instruments and huge datasets as part of their world-class expertise and reach. Through our integrated big data and big compute systems, we facilitate and enable groundbreaking astronomical research.

The SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey is producing a high-fidelity record of the entire Southern sky. Led by The Australian National University and supported by 7 other Australian universities, SkyMapper is producing a valuable dataset for use by the entire community for a whole range of different astronomical investigations. By the end of the project, they will have taken more than 600,000 images of the night sky and catalogued over 1 billion different objects. Regularly updated with new images, a significant portion of SkyMapper’s data processing takes place at NCI every night. Subsequent data storage, cataloguing and access takes place through NCI’s data portals and the All-Sky Virtual Laboratory.

Through NCI, researchers are also working on theoretical modelling of supernova explosions, star formation and dark matter. Running the models that describe some of these impossibly distant phenomena on a supercomputer helps researchers understand where the boundaries of their research should be. This guides the experimental observations they aim for, and gives them a strong foundation for further theory development.

Several large astronomical research projects are coming to life in the coming years, including the Square Kilometre Array in Western Australia whose data will be managed in large part through the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and future data releases of the SkyMapper program to be hosted at NCI. Astronomy is yet another computational discipline growing its data needs and relying heavily on a robust infrastructure platform to underpin their work.