RIT scientists use supercomputers to ‘see’ black holes

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RIT scientists have won several grants to further extend their own supercomputer and make use of two of the fastest supercomputers in the world in their quest to “shine light” on black holes. Since light cannot escape from the surface of a black hole, scientists rely upon computer algorithms to study the massive dark objects. Researchers in the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at RIT are using supercomputers on campus and across the country to simulate with mathematics and computer graphics what cannot be seen directly. 

RIT mathematics professors Manuela Campanelli, Carlos Lousto, Yosef Zlochower and Joshua Faber, and computer science professor Hans-Peter Bischof, study the evolution of black holes and other objects using large-scale supercomputers. Their computer lab hosts “NewHorizons,” a cluster consisting of 85 nodes with four processors each, connected via an Infiniband network that passes data at 10-gigabyte-per-second speeds. 

Three National Science Foundation awards have brought the center’s external funding total up to $2.9 million in the past three years. The awards—plus time won on a top supercomputer—will dramatically enhance the team’s access to the most sophisticated computer power in the world.