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MilkyWay@Home

MilkyWay@home is a distributed computing project, harnessing the power of volunteered computers to create a highly accurate 3D model of the Milky Way galaxy. The project uses data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform.

By volunteering a percentage of your computer’s unused operating power, your computer will focus on mapping out a small section of our galaxy. MilkyWay@Home’s data,source code, research and results are open source and available for public use.

In general, an astrophysics problem revolves around creating a computer system model that will replicate what we see in the sky – if a model matches exactly then we can leapfrog off that information to work on a bigger, more involved problem.

MilkyWay@Home is currently focusing on the Sagittarius stream, which provides knowledge about how our galaxy was formed and how tidal tails are created when galaxies merge. The general idea is that our galaxy actually has smaller galaxies mixed within it, probably from galactic collisions in ancient history. Mapping the dynamics of such interstellar streams is expected to provide crucial clues for understanding the evolution of the Milky Way and similar galaxies. It could also provide insight on dark matter.

This project also enables research in both astroinformatics and computer science. Astroinformatics is a rising field at the interface between Computer Science and Astronomy with new discoveries made possible by the abundance in galactic data created by the SDSS.

As of January 2010, MilkyWay@Home has 44,900 users and 1,590 teams in 170 countries, with an average computing power of 1,382 TeraFlops. This ranks MilkyWay@Home second amongst the Top 500 list of supercomputers.

Project owners + coordinators:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s departments of Computer Science and Physics/Astronomy
Travis Desell, Graduate Research Assistant in Computer Science
Dave Przybylo, Undergraduate Research Assistant in Computer Science
Nathan Cole, Graduate Research Assistant in Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy
Malik Magdon-Ismail, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Heidi Newberg, Associate Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy
Boleslaw Szymanski, Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of Computer Science
Carlos Varela, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Category: distributed computing.

Tags: .

MilkyWay@Home

To learn more, visit: http://milkyway.cs.rpi.edu

To participate:
• download and run BOINC, then select Attach to Project and when prompted, enter http://milkyway.cs.rpi.edu/milkyway/
• to optimize your computer for contributing to MilkyWay@Home, you will need to have BOINC running in the background while leaving your computer on for at least 24 hours

To stay up-to-date on this project:
• join milkyway.cs.rpi.edu/milkyway/forum_index.php

Credits: http://spacehack.org/project/milkywayhome

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