Combing through the data jungle

Meeting of experts at the Albert Einstein Institute Hannover

May 02, 2012

What do we do with the information about space that telescopes provide us with? How will the constantly growing amount of data be stored, analyzed and interpreted? On 3 and 4 May, over 50 scientists from all over the world will gather in Hannover for the “3rd ASPERA Computing and Astroparticle Physics Workshop” in order to address these questions.

Astroparticle physics focuses on many interesting questions: What does the universe consist of? What actually is “dark matter” and “dark energy”? How can gravitational waves be proven? How do cosmic structures arise? The observation of the universe via a range of astronomical methods generates a gigantic amount of data through which the scientists search for signals, e.g. from neutron stars or exploding stars. To this effect, the huge mountain of data must at least temporarily be stored. Moreover, intelligent search methods are required to detect signals in the data jungle.

At the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover, Prof. Dr. Bruce Allen is developing such intelligent search methods together with his department. The scientists have thereby discovered 30 new pulsars in the past two years which, up to that point, were not able to be found in this telescope data, owing to the weakness of their signals. The methods, originally developed for the search for gravitational waves, are also being deployed from the Einstein@Home, a project for shared computing in which over 300,000 volunteers from 193 countries are participating.

“During our meeting of experts, we will also be discussing the key topics ‘technologies’ and ‘hardware’”, says Bruce Allen, who organized the meeting. “The talks will cover a broad spectrum of issues that will range from energy-saving computing with graphics processors through to the latest data analysis methods for various telescopes”.

ASPERA (Astroparticle European Research Area) is a research network funded by the European Commission which unites scientists and governmental institutions from European countries that are active in the area of astroparticle physics or that financially support this area. The goal of the network is to pool the national efforts of the member states and thereby promote astroparticle physics throughout Europe in a coordinated way.

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