ScienceLog: An Eye On The Universe

From AMON: An Eye on the Universe

AMON stands for Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network. Its mission is to form a network of high-energy observatories across the globe that will search for previously unseen astrophysical signals and send alerts to more traditional telescopes in order to corroborate the possible celestial events.

Until the early 20th Century, astronomers relied almost exclusively on visible light to view the sky. Their telescopes, though steadily increasing inpower, were no different in this respect from the ones used by Galileo in 1610. Today we see much more of the universe by observing light from all across the electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma-ray-, x-ray-, infrared-, and radio-astronomy have revolutionized astronomical observation, as have the advent of space-based telescopes to complement those on the ground.

the past 50 years have seen tremendous progress in the sensitivity of instruments to detect cosmic rays—high-energy charged particles from outer space, such as protons and charged nuclei. Particle accelerators have enabled physicists to create, detect, and analyze other sub-atomic particles, such as neutrinos. These alternative messengers—particles that survive across vast distances in space—presented whole new avenues of exploration.

Computing infrastructure

The Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure (RCC) unit of Information Technology Services enable scholars to do large-scale computations through linked services, including hardware, software, and personnel.

The High Performance Computing (HPC) system within RCC is a shared resource among dozens of researchers in a host of departmental and interdisciplinary units at Penn State that meets the dual data challenges presented by the AMON project. First, there is the need to continuously receive data from the triggering instruments. This requires computing systems with robust and consistently high “up-time.” The HPC has sub-systems rated at Tier III, with 99.999 percent up-time (less than five minutes of downtime annually).

Probabilistic Databases

“We are experimenting with a ‘probabilistic’ database that can collect disparate data, say, on neutrinos and gamma rays, and quickly determine the probability that both have come from the same source. This is cutting edge database work.”


It is fascinating to read about how computers and new scientific software and databases help advanced research.  Part of my random reading. Some of the most interesting Science Research articles come from tracking NSF (National Science Foundation) site.


One of the best ways to look at advances in Science and Technology is to track funded research.