Researchers from the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) at Durham University have been using a supercomputer built by Sun to find out why the universe is expanding.
The supercomputer consists of 1,300 processors, making it one of the largest supercomputers in Europe dedicated to academic research in one field. Called the Cosmology Machine (Cosma), it is built up of a combination of UltraSPARC IIIi and AMD Opteron nodes. The machine also uses Sun's Solaris OS, compilers and internode communications software.
The simulations are being used by an international team, which is competing to carry out a new space mission under the European Space Agency's "Cosmic Vision" programme.
As part of Virgo Consortium, an international group of cosmologists who simulate the growth of cosmic structures, the group at Durham has used the local supercomputer to simulate more of the universe than has ever been attempted before.