Skip to main content

Check out this supercomputer’s stunning image of a supernova remnant

Australia’s newest supercomputer has crunched masses of data to create a stunning image of a supernova remnant.

The supercomputer — named Setonix after Western Australia’s favorite animal, the quokka (Setonix brachyurus) — created the highly detailed image using data collected by ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometre Array) radio telescope, which is operated by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), the country’s science agency.

Setonix is located at the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre in Perth and is a key part of the facility’s recent $70 million upgrade. The supercomputer is being installed in two stages, with the second stage expected to be up and running by the end of 2022.

Dr. Pascal Elahi, Pawsey’s supercomputing applications specialist, said that processing data from ASKAP’s astronomy surveys “is a great way to stress-test the Setonix system and see what is possible.”

An image of a supernova remnant created by Setonix, Australia's newest supercomputer.
This radio continuum (943.5 MHz) ASKAP image is of the galactic supernova remnant G261.9+5.5, located somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 light years away. It was originally discovered by CSIRO scientist E. R. Hill in 1967, however not much is known about it. The morphology of the remnant revealed in the ASKAP image will aid in studying the remnant and its surrounding medium in unprecedented detail. Researchers hope to retrieve more information about the remnant’s age, size, and type from this data. Credit: Dr Wasim Raja/CSIRO, Dr Pascal Elah/Pawsey

Dr. Wasim Raja, a researcher on CSIRO’s ASKAP team, said the challenges in imaging a complex object like a supernova remnant (essentially the clouds of material that emerge from the explosion of a huge star at the end of its life) made it the ideal dataset for testing Setonix’s processing software.

“Setonix’s large, shared memory will allow us to use more of our software features and further enhance the quality of our images,” Raja said. “This means we will be able to unearth more from the ASKAP data.”

When the second stage of Setonix is fully deployed, the supercomputer will be up to 30 times more powerful than the combined capability of Pawsey’s earlier systems, Galaxy and Magnus.

The increased processing power means that we can expect even more incredible images from Setonix as ASKAP plans to send it more data from larger and deeper surveys of the sky.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Check out these stunning images of SpaceX’s recent Starship test
SpaceX's Starship spacecraft during a test in June 2023.

As part of preparations for the second test flight of its Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft, SpaceX this week performed a static fire test of the latter.

The exercise, which took place at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, involved firing the Starship’s six engines for several seconds.

Read more
See seasonal changes on Mars in two stunning images from MAVEN
mars maven ultraviolet seasons orbit16863 apo ladfit localff png

The planets in our solar system experience seasons because of the way that they are tilted in their orbits, so one hemisphere is facing the sun more often at some times of year than others. However, there's another factor which also affects weather and conditions on some planets, which is their position in their orbit around the sun. Earth has a relatively circular orbit, so the differences caused by it being slightly closer or further from the sun at different points are minimal. But Mars's orbit is much more eccentric or oval-shaped than Earth's, meaning conditions differ based on when the planet is closer to the sun.

That effect is illustrated in two images of Mars recently released by NASA, which show the planet at its closest and furthest point from the sun. Taken by a Mars orbiter called MAVEN, or Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, the images were taken six months apart in July 2022 and January 2023 respectively, showing how the environment of the planet changes with both season and the planet's orbit.

Read more
See stunning images combining James Webb and Chandra X-ray data
james webb chandra images chandrawebb2 1

Since beginning science operations last summer, the James Webb Space Telescope has been providing a plethora of beautiful images of space. Now, NASA has shared a new view of some of those images, by combining infrared data from Webb with X-ray data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

The four new images show a variety of cosmic objects like galaxies and nebulae, bringing together observations from different wavelengths to show features that wouldn't be visible in a single wavelength. As well as Webb and Chandra, the images also incorporate data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which operates in the visible light wavelength, the retired Spitzer Space Telescope which looked in the infrared, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray instrument and the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope, which also operates in the visible wavelength.

Read more