The University of Washington DIRAC Institute

Realizing opportunities for data-driven discovery in astronomy and astrophysics.

DIRAC: Data Intensive Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology

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The DIRAC Institute is a world leading, interdisciplinary research center that addresses fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of our universe.

Our research brings together scientists across many disciplines on a mission to understand the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, the emergence of structure within the universe, the formation of galaxies, the birth and evolution of black holes, the transformations of stars, and the origins of the planets.

Learn more about DIRAC »

Talks & Presentations

TED Talk by Dr. Andy Connolly on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

Upcoming Events

UW Astronomy
  • Strange Nonchaotic Stars
    May 11 @ 4:00 PM
    Physics/Astro Auditorium,

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  • JWST is Coming to a Lagrangian Point Near You!
    May 18 @ 4:00 PM
    Physics/Astro Auditorium,

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  • Stellar Tidal Disruption: what can we learn and what have we learned
    May 25 @ 4:00 PM
    Physics/Astro Auditorium,

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See all upcoming UW Astro Events »


eScience Institute
  • Community Seminar: Randal Ketchem
    May 16 @ 3:30 PM
    Physics/Astronomy Auditorium A110

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  • Community Seminar: Gang Luo
    May 23 @ 3:30 PM
    Physics/Astronomy Auditorium A110

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  • Steering Committee Meeting
    May 24 @ 2:30 PM
    eScience Institute WRF Data Science Studio

    Find out more

See all upcoming eScience Events »

Getting Involved

DIRAC is creating an environment where scientists can harness interdisciplinary expertise to solve some of the most difficult questions facing Astronomy today. It provides an interaction space between Astrophysics, Computer Science, Statistics, and other disciplines. It is a place where ideas across many disciplines come together and mature; a laboratory for devising new ways of extracting knowledge from complex systems.

If you are interesting in contributing to DIRAC, please contact Andy Connolly at ajc @ astro.washington.edu.

The LSST Survey and DIRAC

8.4 meter, wide-field, f/1.2 telescope.
3.2 Gigapixel, 189 4k x 4k CCD camera, with 2-second readout.
PetaFLOPS of computing power, hundreds of PB of storage, gigabit long-haul networks.

Turning the sky into a database.

Petascale Era of Optical Astronomy

Beginning early in the next decade, the LSST will collect over 50 PB of raw data, resulting in over 30 trillion observations of 40 billion astronomical sources. It will measure the positions and properties of over 20 billion stars, or 10% of all stars in the Milky Way.

Rapid Discovery

The LSST will scan the visible sky once every three days, charting objects that change or move: from exploding supernovae to potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids.

Open Data, Open Source

LSST data will be available with no proprietary period to all astronomers in the United States, Chile, and International Partners. Alerts about variable sources will be available world-wide within 60 seconds. The LSST data processing stack will be open source (GPL v3).

People, Sponsors, and Contact Information

Welcoming New Hires

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Daniela Huppenkothen as Associate Director for the DIRAC Institute. Dr. Huppenkothen will lead a team of researchers who will address fundamental questions in astrophysics and define the research directions in which DIRAC will expand.

Andy Connolly  Director
Andy Connolly

My work focuses on using large surveys to study cosmology and the evolution of galaxies. This ranges from studying the clustering of galaxies and their evolution with redshift, weak gravitational lensing of galaxies, and estimating the properties of galaxies based on their colors (aka photometric redshifts). The common theme to this work is addressing the need for massive data sets and how to work with them. One area that interests me a lot at the moment is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) where I lead the development of simulations of what LSST might observe. Beyond cosmology, I am also interested in how to make the technologies that companies use to search the internet useful in research and education.

Mario Jurić  Director
Mario Jurić

I'm interested in astronomical 'Big Data': developing and applying methods and algorithms that let us use large data sets to answer research questions. Major astronomical surveys of today are routinely collecting hundreds of terabytes of images, creating databases with billions of objects and several billion measurements. Large surveys astronomers are becoming part data scientists. In my research, I go where the data takes me — I've worked on topics ranging from asteroids in the Solar System, Galactic structure, to the scale structure of the universe. My current focus is using survey data to understand the structure and evolution of the Milky Way.

Željko Ivezić  Director
Željko Ivezić

Željko Ivezić (pronounced something like Gel-co Eva-zich) obtained undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and physics from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, in 1990 and 1991. He obtained Ph.D. in physics from the University of Kentucky in 1995, where he worked on dust radiative transfer models and wrote the code Dusty. He moved on to Princeton University in 1997 to work on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and took a professorship at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2004. Željko's scientific interests are in detection, analysis and interpretation of electromagnetic radiation from astronomical sources. His current obsession is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project, for which he serves as the Project Scientist.