ASTRON, a leading astronomy organization in the Netherlands, will use IBM’s Blue Gene/L supercomputer technology as the basis to develop a new type of radio telescope capable of looking back billions of years in time.

This joint research project in high data volume supercomputing between IBM and ASTRON will help scientists examine the beginnings of the earliest stars and galaxies after the formation of the universe, known as the Big Bang.

The Blue Gene/L system is expected to be completed by the middle of 2005. It will give ASTRON the tools and speed it needs to gather and analyze information from its Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) “software telescope” network.

IBM says a consortium of universities, research institutes and companies plans to carry out research programs with the telescope when it begins operation a year later.