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Virtual organizations in astronomy and beyond. Tblisi, March 28-30 2007. Prof. Giuseppe Longo Chair of Astrophysics - Department of Physical Sciences University of Napoli Federico II – Italy National Institute of Astrophysics – Napoli Unit

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Virtual organizations in astronomy and beyond

Tblisi, March 28-30 2007

Prof. Giuseppe LongoChair of Astrophysics - Department of Physical Sciences University of Napoli Federico II – ItalyNational Institute of Astrophysics – Napoli Unitlongo@na.infn.it

the exponential growth of information in astronomy
The Exponential Growth of Information in Astronomy
  • Gigapixel arrays are a reality,hence optical and near infrared surveys are becoming common
  • Space missions archives are being federated
  • Old datasets (space and ground based instruments) are being federated
  • Estimated 1 TB per day in 2008

Total area of 3m+ telescopes in the world in m2, total number of CCD pixels in Megapix, as a function of time. Growth over 25 years is a factor of 30 in glass, 3000 in pixels.


Astronomy, more than other sciences is facing a Major Data Avalanche ( … a true tsunami…)

Large survey projects from ground and from space

(past, ongoing, future)

Distributed data repositoriesData are not where the users are PetaBytes of data / week

Data federation of MDS

Adoption of standards and common onthologies

Massive numerical simulationsDistributed computing (PB per simulation)

Data analysis and interpretation

Need for a new generation of tools (A.I. based) capable to work in a distributed environment

International Virtual Observatory Alliance


the distributed environment
The distributed environment
  • Once the VO’a will come operationals, there will be no need to have locally powerful computing facilities,

Federation of existing and new databases through adoption of common standards Network access to the databases

  • To provide the user with user friendly access to all federated data
  • To allow the user to access distributed computing facilities and to exploit all available data withouth moving the data but the codes (… data remain at data centers where the expertise is)
  • To open entirely new paths to discovery process in astronomy (but not only!)

What are some of the goals of VO’s


VO are the most democratic tool ever implemented by any scientific community.

  • Data repositories are mostly public (either immediately or after proprietary period of observers)
  • Data analysis and data mining tools are available to the international community through a distributed computing environment
  • Every one can contribute (either with new data or with new SW-tools)
  • Once the VO be implemented, new – top level science will be at the “fingers” of any competent scientist who has minimal computing facilities and a good access to the WWW

What is being done in Napoli 1 – The surveys

VLT Survey Telescope(Napoli,ESO)P.I: Prof. M. Capaccioli

2.5 m diameter - OPTICAL1x1 sq deg f.o.v.16 k x 16k CCD mosaic (optical)

New technologyAdaptive optics

0.2 arcsec psf

Operational end 2007

100 GB raw data/night

Nobel laureate R. Giacconi visiting VST factory


What is being done in Napoli 2 – The detector


French – Netherlands – Italy consortium

16 k x 16 k array CCd mosaic


Data processing pipeline

European FP6 network ASTROWISE

Real time storage and processing of the VST data


What is being done in Napoli 3 – The computing

Campus GRID

512 +15 + 24 + 16 + 128 nodes

150 TB storage

(IBM, DEC - Alpha, etc.)

16 GBaud optical fibers backbone

Recently evolved intoPON - SCOPE

3.6 M€ (8.2 M€ total) for Hardware (512 boards with 4 CPU’s)

Financed by Italian Government

Operational end 2007


VO- Neural (Napoli lead)

Building Data Mining and Visualization for Massive Data Sets in a Distributed Environment

What is being done in Napoli 4 – The Data mining

Draco Projectbuilding the GRID infrastructure for the Italian VO400 k€ - MIUR

Cost- Action 283 EU

Euro – VO, VO-Tech European Virtual Observatory Technological Infrastructures

European Infrastructures for VO (UK, D, I, F, etc.) 6.6 M€ - EU


Complex parameter space

Parameter space of incredibly high dimensionality (N>>100)

example 1 panchromatic view of the universe
Example 1: panchromatic view of the universe




Crab Nebula: SN 1054 a.C.


example 2 a new way to do conventional astronomy
Example 2: a new way to do conventional astronomy

Selection of quasar candidates from a 3 band photometric survey

example exploring a 3d parameter space
Example: exploring a 3D Parameter Space
  • Given an arbitrary parameter space:
  • Data Clusters
  • Points between Data Clusters
  • Isolated Data Clusters
  • Isolated Data Groups
  • Holes in Data Clusters
  • Isolated Points

Nichol et al. 2001

Slide courtesy of Robert Brunner @ CalTech.

example 21 d parameter space
Example: 21-D parameter space

VO- NeuralProbabilistic Principal Surfaces Negative ENtropy Clustering + Dendrogram


Multiwavelenght – multiepoch – multinstrument data (federation of databases) hence there is a strong need for a new generation of data processing, data visualization and data-mining tools

  • These tools must be largely based on Artificial Intelligence
  • Interoparibility is a must (Plastic is a standard)

THESE TOOLS ARE OF WIDE APPLICATION: bioinformatics, geophysics (environment, stratigraphy, etc.), business (stock market, marketing strategies, etc.). Therefore interdisciplinarity is a must!

  • Many probles to be solved:
  • Missing data (bew data models are needed)
  • Parallelization of existing codes
  • Sensibilization of the community through selected scientific cases (astrophysics, bioinformatic, marketing, etc.)

We (UK, F, I, D, USA, India) intend to pursue the above tasks using the following instruments:

National funds and private companies

EU funds through new COST Action and ITN

Eventually through RI

US funds through NSF

Conferences and Schools for young students (dissemination is CRUCIAL)


Plate or digital archives of astronomical dataOther types of scientific dataAdvanced programming and mathematical know-how’s