I thought this post was very well done. It is very informative as to what is currently done at ESO.

Someone Somewhere

eso1253aALMA correlator turns many antennas into one giant telescope.

One of the most powerful supercomputers in the world has now been fully installed and tested at its remote, high altitude site in the Andes of northern Chile. This marks one of the major remaining milestones toward completion of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most elaborate ground-based telescope in history. The special-purpose ALMA correlator has over 134 million processors and performs up to 17 quadrillion operations per second, a speed comparable to the fastest general-purpose supercomputer in operation today.

The correlator is a critical component of ALMA, an astronomical telescope which is composed of an array of 66 dish-shaped antennas. The correlator’s 134 million processors continually combine and compare faint celestial signals received by the antennas in the ALMA array, which are separated by up to 16 kilometres, enabling the antennas to work together as a single, enormous telescope…

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