Institute for Computational Astrophysics

Image of the Month


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Fuzzy tails and bridges of stars are pulled out of galaxies when they interact with each other, and such features let us identify galaxies that are interacting and likely to merge with each other.  By counting how many such systems are seen at different cosmic epochs we can deduce how common galaxy-galaxy mergers were at different times in the history of the Universe. The picture here shows just seven examples of interacting systems identified by Dr. Marcin Sawicki in images taken by the CFHT and Subaru telescopes as part of the very large CLAUDS and HSCS survey projects.  Once these two surveys are fully completed we expect to have a sample of about 15,000 such interacting systems, spanning cosmic history between now and the time when the Universe was only a third of its present age.

Introduction to ICA

The Institute for Computational Astrophysics (ICA) was formed to expand an area of expertise within the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University. Since its creation in late 2001, the ICA has grown to six full time faculty members, and at any time there are on the order of eight graduate students and two post doctoral fellows amongst the ICA membership. This does not include the other faculty, graduate students, and post doctoral fellows in the Department of Astronomy and Physics. The ICA promotes research in computational astrophysics through the research and publication activities of the individual members, by hosting visitors and colloquium speakers, and by having all its members participate in national and international conferences.

The ICA is also responsible for providing its members with access to high performance computing resources. The ICA has its own small cluster for code development, but most computing is done through ACENET, the advanced research computing provider for Atlantic Canada. ACENET also provides computational research consulting expertise, training, and collaboration and visualization tools on the Saint Mary's campus. The ICA has played a significant role in the formation and direction of ACENET since its inception in 2003, with several members involved in areas such as Principal Investigator, Research Directorate member, and the national Resource Allocation Committee for Compute Canada, ACENET’s national partner. ACENET employs three full time technical support personnel at Saint Mary's, and ICA members have been major beneficiaries of their expertise.

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