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More Efficient Software

Elaborate software programs have been developed to handle all the data collected by the array. The most commonly used software package by BIMA observers is MIRIAD, which stands for Multichannel Image Reconstruction, Image Analysis and Display. MIRIAD is used to edit and process data, and to turn it into radiomaps, pictorial representations of data whose meanings can be grasped quickly by the trained eye. However, several versions of the software exist, each tailored to a different computer system, making it difficult to compare the results from different types of computers.

Future Improvements

Written in the programming language C++, a new software package called Astronomical Image Processing System, AIPS++, will help overcome the difficulties due to current diversity in computer systems. The software is engineered not only to work in different computing environments but also to harness the parallel processing capabilities of the latest high performance computers. In these machines, computations are performed on dozens, hundreds or thousands of processors simultaneously, resulting in a marked increases in speed. AIPS++ will take full advantage of the advanced architectures of such mac hines, thereby dramatically reducing the time needed for intensive computations.

Dick Crutcher, on-camera
Movie/Sound Byte
QuickTime Movie (1.2 MB); Sound File (822K); Text

Using AIPS++ and AipsView, a related software tool for display and analysis of complex datasets, scientists will also be able to visualize radioimaging data in a variety of ways, and closely examine the resulting images or movies, using a standard suite of tools. For example, pictures from telescope data might be compared to images calculated from simulations of the celestial phenomena or objects under observation.

In short, AIPS++ and AipsView will eliminate the need for astronomers to be expert programmers and provide a means by which any astronomer would be able to set up an observing run, collect data, produce images and analyze the results; all this without hav ing to know, in technical detail, how an array works.

Eventually AIPS++ will likely become the standard for handling radioimage data, implemented at all radiotelescope arrays, for use by researchers across the globe.

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