Computational Astrophysics

In the past ten years specialist software at an astronomer’s disposal has evolved into sophisticated analysis tools capable of modeling complex astrophysical processes accurately. Two research groups in Australia, at Monash University and Swinburne University of Technology, are leading the field developing new algorithms and methodologies for the 21st century.

Computer simulation in astrophysics is a major area of research at the Monash Centre for Astrophysics, especially parallel and parametric studies using supercomputer clusters. Monash led the development (by Prof Joe Monaghan) of the Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) method which is now a standard in theoretical astrophysics. Recent collaborations with the Monash Cluster Computing (MC2) laboratory, including the study of stellar and planetary dynamics and formation.

The Cosmology and Galaxy Formation Group at Swinburne University’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has been in existence since 2000 and has risen to become one of Australia’s foremost computational astrophysics groups. Facilities utilized by the group in their research extend to a 24-cpu Alpha Cluster, a 32-cpu Dell PIII Cluster and a 180-cpu Dell P4 Xeon Cluster. This impressive array of computational hardware is used to simulate galaxy formation and galaxy evolution through a variety of complementary approaches. The Group have developed the sophisticated Cosmological Adaptive Mesh Refinement Code MLAPM, the N-body/SPH Galaxy Formation Code GCD+, and the semi-analytical Galactic Chemical Evolution Tool GEtool.

The Stars & Planets Group at Swinburne also make heavy use of both the Swinburne supercomputer and APAC supercomputer to study various aspects of star & planet formation, as well as accretion disks around evolved binaries (such as cataclysmic variables, X-ray transients and accreting pulsars). They make extensive use of the SPH technique.