Video: Discovering the Origin of Stars Through 3D Visualization

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PleiadesThis visualization from David Ellsworth and Tim Sandstrom at NASA/AMES shows the evolution of a giant molecular cloud over 700,000 years. It ran on the Pleiades supercomputer using the ORION2 code developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It depicts how gravitational collapse leads to the formation of an infrared dark cloud (IRDC) filament in which protostars begin to develop, shown by the bright orange luminosity along the main and surrounding filaments.

Our simulations, run on Pleiades and brought to life by the visualization team at the NAS facility at Ames, were critical to obtain important new results that match with Hubble’s high-resolution images and other observations made by a variety of space and Earth-based telescopes,” said Richard Klein, adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and astrophysicist at LLNL. A key result, supported by observation, is that some star clusters form like pearls in a chain along elongated, dense filaments inside molecular clouds—so-called “stellar nurseries.”

Klein, along with his colleagues, professor Chris McKee and research specialist Pak Shing Li, and their students at UC Berkeley, developed the ORION2 radiation-magnetohydrodynamics code to capture the broad range of physics and the immense scales of time and space required to produce the simulations, which follow the formation and evolution of protostellar clusters across 700,000 years.

Pleiades, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, represents NASA’s state-of-the-art technology for meeting the agency’s supercomputing requirements, enabling NASA scientists and engineers to conduct modeling and simulation for NASA missions. This distributed-memory SGI ICE cluster is connected with InfiniBand in a dual-plane hypercube technology.

The system contains the following types of Intel Xeon processors: E5-2680v4 (Broadwell), E5-2680v3 (Haswell), E5-2680v2 (Ivy Bridge), and E5-2670 (Sandy Bridge). Pleiades is named after the astronomical open star cluster of the same name.

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