IBM has been chosen by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) consortium to help scientists probe the origins of the universe. The consortium, composed of 13 institutions from Australia, New Zealand, U.S. and India, are planning to build a new type of radio telescope that’s designed to capture low frequency radio waves from deep space, as well as the volatile atmospheric conditions in the Sun. Basically, signals will be received by the MWA telescope’s 4,096 dipole antennas and will then be processed by IBM’s iDataPlex dx360 M3 computing cluster to convert the radio waves into wide-field images.
IBM will be replacing the previously used custom-made hardware systems of MWA. The company’s computing cluster, housed at the Murchison Radio Observatory in Perth, can reportedly process 50 terabytes of data per day, at a speed of 8 gigabytes per second – that’s the equivalent to over 2,000 digital songs per second. The end goal of the $51 million project will be to study the universe, back when stars and galaxies were first made. The scientists believe that by studying weak radio signals, they will be able to understand how planets, galaxies, and stars are created.