Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his General Theory of Relativity in 1915, and for many years the ability to prove this phenomenon eluded scientists. Not anymore, because scientists at Nor-Tech has built a HPC cluster for the Orange County Relativity Cluster for Astronomy (ORCA) which proved the existence of gravitational waves.
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Nor-Tech made the HPC Simulation Center to gather data and then analyze these with simulation software made under the LIGO Gravitational Wave Project, enabling ORCA to provide proof that made the observed gravitational wave to fit the measurements generated by the computer simulation.
The cluster is located at California State University, Fullerton in the University Data Center. It has more than 1500 gigabytes of memory, more than 30 terabytes of local storage, and 576 compute cores that together are capable of more than seven trillion operations per second. In addition to the LIGO gravitational waveform modeling and characterization algorithms, ORCA can simulate other astronomical phenomena such as neutron stars.
“We have been working with the LIGO team for about 10 years on this,” said David Bollig, Nor-Tech CEO and president. “From the beginning we have felt privileged to be a part of this project. Now, with this first observation we are absolutely thrilled.”
Gravitational waves have been identified to be ripples in the fabric of space-time coming direct at earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe – in this case the collision of two black holes. It can also be described as a wave that is hypothesized to propagate gravity and to travel at the speed of light. These were detected by the two LIGO detectors at Livingston, La. and Hanford, Wash. Scientists think the black holes collided to produce the wave nearly 1.3 billion years ago and estimated to about 29 and 36 the mass of the sun.
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Confirming the existence of gravitational waves after 20 years of searching is the largest and forward looking project ever funded by the National Science Foundation.