Physics Researchers Awarded $2.3 Million to Develop NSF Einstein Toolkit for Astrophysics

NSF awards $2.3 million to effort led by Pablo Laguna and Deirdre Shoemaker for the development of the Einstein Toolkit Ecosystem: Enabling Fundamental Research in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics

April 23, 2020

Two School of Physics professors are part of a multi-institution effort to provide scientists with the best computational resources for a new era of relativistic astrophysics – an era that now includes measurements of gravitational waves caused by black hole collisions.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $2.3 million through its Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovations (CSSI) program to an existing collaborative effort between Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Rochester Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, and West Virginia University to further develop the Einstein Toolkit. The new funding will put UIUC as the lead investigating institution; Georgia Tech had been the lead during a previous funding round.

The project at Georgia Tech is led by co-principal investigators and School of Physics professors Pablo Laguna, who is also the school's chair, and Deirdre Shoemaker. Both are also with Georgia Tech's Center for Relativistic Astrophysics.

The Einstein Toolkit is a community-driven open source ecosystem that provides computational tools to solve Einstein’s equations of general relativity, and to advance research in relativistic astrophysics and gravitational wave physics.

The research team aims to address current and future challenges in modeling sources of gravitational waves such as the collisions of black holes and neutron stars. The main goal of the effort supported by this award will be to improve the scalability of the software and expand the science addressed with the toolkit. The project stems from a previous NSF grant for collaborative research in community planning for scalable cyberinfrastructure to support multi-messenger astrophysics (gravitational waves, neutrinos, gamma and X-rays, along with traditional observations from telescopes and space probes). That grant was awarded to Laguna in 2018.

The Einstein Toolkit is utilized by many groups across six continents, and is developed and supported in a distributed, collaborative manner. Its focus on community-based development has resulted in a large user base — to date, 282 registered users from 194 different groups and 40 countries. In addition, the toolkit supports simulations providing information on gravitational waveforms for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

“OAC is pleased to support community-driven software platforms that advance research in relativistic astrophysics that are relevant to Multi-Messenger Astrophysics," says Dr. Manish Parashar, office director for the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) at NSF.

Read more about the collaborative frameworks research project, The Einstein Toolkit Ecosystem: Enabling Fundamental Research in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics.



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Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer
College of Sciences