The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) highlights the research of the UIB Relativity and Gravitation group

15 October, 2013

The Partnership for Advanced Computation in Europe (PRACE) highlights in their 2012 Annual Report the project from the University of the Balearic Islands 'Modeling gravitational wave signals from black hole binaries', lead by Sascha Husa.

This project is based around the new field of gravitational wave astronomy, which aims to marry the theoretical physics behind black holes and general relativity with real observations from space. In total, this project was awarded 37 million core hours on SuperMUC for black holes simulations. SuperMUC, located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre, is the second most powerful computer in Europe and the sixth in the world.

According to Sascha Husa, the main point of this project is to make predictions for what wave trains will ‘sound’ like from different astrophysical sources. For example, a binary black hole system will have different mass and spin from other systems, and thus, the gravitational waves emitted by them will be different. So, the goal is using simulations to create analytical models which can be used by those who analyse the data from the gravitational wave detectors, so that they can then identify binary systems and calculate their mass and spin.

These simulations are not cheap, however. A single simulation of a binary black hole can easily cost hundreds of thousands of CPU hours. Thanks to the resources provided by PRACE the chance to carry out this research was real, which would not have been possible on the existing national computers in most of the European countries.

PRACE is established as an international non-profit association, with its seat in Brussels and has 25 member countries. The mission of PRACE is to enable high impact scientific discovery and engineering research and development across all disciplines to enhance European competitiveness for the benefit of society. PRACE seeks to realize this mission by offering world class computing and data management resources and services through a peer review process. The computer systems and their operations accessible through PRACE are provided by 4 PRACE members (BSC representing Spain, CINECA representing Italy, GCS representing Germany and GENCI representing France) who committed a total funding of €400 million for the initial PRACE systems and operations.

Here you can find the PRACE anual report.