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NASA Achieves Breakthrough In Black Hole Simulation
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Dr. Joan Centrella
Chief, Gravitational Astrophysics Laboratory
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Peter Saulson
Spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Syracuse University

Dr. Larry Smarr
Professor and Director of California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology
University of California San Diego

+ Contributors biographies and photos


Black Hole
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Left animation: Visual 1: Merging Galaxies
Two spiral galaxies, each having a massive black hole at the center, are shown in the early stages of a merger. Hundreds of millions of years after the galaxies merge, the black holes at the centers will eventually come together and merge as well. (4.6 Mb - no audio). Credit: Librero/ Coburn, NASA
A New Model
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Left animation: Visual 2: A New Model
This visualization shows what Einstein envisioned. Researchers crunched Einstein's theory of general relativity on the Columbia supercomputer at the NASA Ames Research Center to create a three-dimensional simulation of merging black holes. This was the largest astrophysical calculation ever performed on a NASA supercomputer. The simulation provides the foundation to explore the universe in an entirely new way, through the detection of gravitational waves. (7.4 Mb - no audio). Credit: Henze, NASA
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Visual 3: Merging Black Holes in Abell 400
Apple 400
Image above: Scientists are watching two supermassive black holes spiral towards each other near the center of a galaxy cluster named Abell 400. Shown in this X-ray/radio composite image are the multi-million degree radio jets emanating from the black holes. Click on image to view large resolution. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/AIfA/D.Hudson & T.Reiprich et al.; Radio: NRAO/VLA/NRL

Visual 4: LIGO Site at Hanford, Wash
Image above: Funded by the National Science Foundation, LIGO was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from Caltech and MIT. In an effort to detect passing gravitational waves, researchers bounce high-power laser beams back and forth in each arm. Passing gravitational waves alter the length between the mirrors in the LIGO arms, which the lasers detect. There are two separate LIGO sites; the Hanford, Wash. site is pictured here. Full-time observing commenced in November 2005. Credit: LIGO Laboratory

Visual 5: Upcoming Mission: LISA
Image above: The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna consists of three spacecraft orbiting the sun in a triangular configuration, separated from each other by five million kilometers. Each spacecraft will contain freely falling "proof masses" protected from all other forces except for gravity. The relative motion of the masses can be measured by combining laser beams shining between the spacecraft. Passing gravitational waves will ripple space and time, revealing their presence by altering the motion of the proof masses. Click on image to view large resolution. Credit: NASA

Visual 6: Columbia Supercomputer
Columbia Computer
Image above: Ranked the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world on the November 2005 Top500 list, Columbia has increased the NASA’s total high-end computing, storage, and network capacity tenfold. This has enabled advances in science not previously possible on NASA’s high-end systems. It sits at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Facility at the Ames Research Facility. It consists of a 10,240-processor SGI Altix system comprised of 20 nodes, each with 512 Intel Itanium 2 processors, and running a Linux operating system. Click on image to view large resolution. Credit: Trower, NASA

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