Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo Giuseppe S. Vaiana


Computational fluid dynamics (For more information follow this link).
For several years the OAPa has been committed to High Performance Computing (HPC) programs aimed to develop plasma models in astrophysical environments. Throughout the years, the OAPa researchers have gained a sound experience and the skills necessary to optimize magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) and hydrodynamic codes for efficient execution on high performance parallel computing systems, and to develop and apply numerical models to the study of astrophysical plasma, such as that present in the solar and stellar coronae, young stellar objects, novae, and supernova remnants. They have taken part in the development and optimization of multi-dimensional MHD and hydrodynamic numerical codes, which include several important physical effects in astrophysics, such as thermal conduction, gravity, viscosity, radiative losses from optically thin plasma, non-equilibrium of ionization. The OAPa group has also a long-term experience in analyzing and interpreting the model results in terms of observable quantities and it has an excellent experience on multi-wavelength data analysis and interpretation. The OAPa cooperates with the Flash Centre of the University of Chicago, USA, with the purpose of updating, enlarging and extensively applying the FLASH code, a complex MHD numerical code for astrophysical plasmas. Some important numerical modules now integrated in the FLASH code have been developed in Palermo. The OAPa group also extensively applies PLUTO, a modular Godunov-type MHD code for astrophysical plasmas.

Main Research Lines

The SCAN facility
As the demand for calculation resources increased in 2000, the OAPa reasearchers launched the SCAN service (Sistema di Calcolo per l'Astrofisica Numerica; Computing System for Numerical Astrophysics). At the present day it consists of a cluster Linux based on six nodes each with 8-cores and two nodes each with 12 cores, for a total of 72 CPUs and 144 GByte of memory RAM, hosted in four Twin Servers. The 64 bit nodes are based on processors Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron. The nodes are equipped with Infiniband (Host Channel Adapter - HCA) and are interconnected through the highly efficient switch InfiniBand. For numerical simulations requiring more computational resources, the researchers of the OAPa regularly use HPC computers from CINECA supercomputing centre, in Bologna (Italy), by previous submission of scientific programs which are selected on merit.

COMETA and the PI2S2 project
In 2005, INAF through its institutes based in Sicily (OAPa, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, and Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica di Palermo) promoted the foundation of the COMETA Consortium and outlined the PI2S2 Project, as part of the key national project 'Research, High Training and Technologic Development' funded by the Italian Ministry of Research and University. Other partners, besides INAF, are: INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics); INGV (National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology); the Universities of Palermo, Messina and Catania, and the SCIRE Consortium. The PI2S2 Project allowed the creation of an e-infrastructure in Sicily based on the GRID paradigm which can be used by researchers from OAPa. In particular, research and development centres have been built in order to carry out very important activities in the field of major research and technological applications. The centres are equipped with HPC processors, new managing and processing systems for large databases, new distributed computing technologies and new systems oriented to multimedia simulations.

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