Armagh Observatory, 15 February 2000:
Astronomer Michael Smith at the Armagh Observatory has won £125,000 to help bring a Supercomputer to the City. Together with a matching contribution from an industrial partner, over £250,000 will be available to model dynamical structures in the Universe using state of the art research equipment.

This award will allow the Armagh Observatory to compete at the highest level in this international field and develop collaborations with astronomers in the UK, the USA and Europe.

Professor Mark Bailey, the Director of Armagh Observatory, said, “We welcome the announcement by the Joint Research Equipment Initiative of the award of a supercomputer for astrophysical calculations. This reaffirms the Observatory’s world-class standing in astronomical research. The quality of our research infrastructure is a key element in attracting researchers to Armagh and developing potential links with high-tech industries.”

The collaboration with the computer industry will exploit and develop cutting-edge technology. The calculations of supersonic and hypersonic motion, of shock waves, and of turbulence will provide background knowledge and experience of potential importance in industrial applications.

The supercomputer, still to be named, will allow astronomers to simulate the birth of stars. “Telescopes have been getting bigger and better and our ability to interpret what we observe has to become equally sophisticated,” explained Dr Michael Smith. “We can now observe deep into the regions where stars are forming and catch the moment when a star is born. This supercomputer will be used to simulate the fluids and forces involved.”

The new computer will enable students at Armagh to participate in the development of new programming techniques in the fields of Computational Fluid Dynamics and Information Technology. These are vital to our knowledge-driven economy. “Surfing the internet with a mouse is all very well,” explained fluids expert Michael Smith, “but the real excitement comes in understanding the surf.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr Michael Smith at the Armagh Observatory, Tel.: 028-3752-2928.

Notes for Editors:

The Joint Research Equipment Initiative (JREI) was launched in 1996 by the Office of Science and Technology through the Research Councils and higher education funding bodies with the aim of contributing to the physical research infrastructure and enabling high-quality research to be undertaken through investment with industrial partners.

The project is entitled: “Investigations into supersonic and hypersonic flows in the environment of planets and stars.”

For further science information visit the web page: or contact Michael Smith
phone: UK+28-3752-2928,
Fax: UK+28-3752-7174,

Last Revised: 24th February 2000
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