San Diego Supercomputer Center Expanse Provides Glimpse Of Extended Solar Corona


This animation shows a special visualization of the three-dimensional (3D) magnetic field. By drawing magnetic field lines at extremely high resolution, astrophysicists can calculate a 3D map of the crushing factor – a scientific measurement designed to indicate the presence of complex patterning in the magnetic field. They then embed the map along the line of sight, with special weights to create a composite that looks like solar eclipse images. This is intended to highlight the inherent complexity of the sun’s magnetic field and its intimate connection with the visible emission from the solar corona. Credit: Cooper Downs, Predictive Science Inc.

On Saturday, December 4, a total solar eclipse will occur at 7:33 a.m. (universal time) over Antarctica and parts of the South Pacific near the southern tip of Chile. The solar corona – visible to the naked eye only during a total eclipse – will be visible for just over a minute. For Southern Californians, that viewing time translates to 11:33 p.m. PT on December 3. Thanks to the work of researchers at Predictive Science Inc., who performed simulations on the Extent supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, we have an idea of ​​what the show might look like.

The researchers’ prediction, released on November 27 – a week before totality, was based on a state-of-the-art computer simulation of the sun’s thin, magnetized outer atmosphere known as the solar corona. In addition to providing insight into eclipse hunters, these predictions help scientists planning eclipse observations from the ground, sea, and air. Eclipses also provide a unique opportunity for researchers to test the accuracy and predictive ability of physical models of the solar corona. Such models are essential for understanding how the corona is heated and how it determines the structure and dynamics of the internal heliosphere, including disturbances affecting the Earth called space weather.

Extent was a critical resource, not least because of its unique hardware architecture and fast turnaround time for mid-scale simulations, ”said Cooper Downs, astrophysicist at Predictive Science Inc.“ Although we have allocations on d ” other supercomputers, without Extent we should have started everything several days earlier to make sure all runs and renderings could be completed on time. This would mean that the solar observations used to drive the model would be even more out of date, risking the accuracy of the prediction. “

Downs, whose research focuses on understanding thermodynamic and magnetic processes in the solar corona, is particularly interested in improving and validating numerical models through direct comparisons with observational data. He said that Extent allows it to run larger simulations and create more accurate diagnostics.

“Due to the large number of cores and memory on Extent nodes, we have the ability to run multiple cases of varying degrees of complexity and size – some quite large – with a fast turnaround time, which was critical to getting the final prediction, ”Downs said.

Extent is the newest supercomputer funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the SDSC. It is part of NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which is a virtual organization that integrates and coordinates the sharing of advanced digital services – including supercomputers and data visualization and analysis resources. high-end – with researchers nationwide to support science. Extent Also supports the SDSC theme “Computing Without Borders” with its data-centric architecture, public cloud integration and state-of-the-art GPUs for the integration of experimental and state-of-the-art computing facilities.


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