Visualization of Cosmological Particle-Based Datasets

From Success Stories in Scientific Visualization Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

A collaboration at the University of Texas at Austin between researchers in the department of Astronomy and the Texas Advanced Computing Center has produced visualizations of early Universe phenomena in advance of the direct observations that will be possible using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled for launch in 2013. The images and videos capture the nature of early star formation and decline, including supernovae.

Our visualization technique will be presented in an applications paper: Visualization of Cosmological Particle-Based Datasets, which we will present at IEEE Visualization 2007. It will be published in the conference special-issue of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG).

Abstract
We describe our visualization process for a particle-based simulation of the formation of the first stars and their impact on cosmic history. The dataset consists of several hundred time-steps of point simulation data, with each time-step containing approximately two million point particles. For each time-step, we interpolate the point data onto a regular grid using a method taken from the radiance estimate of photon mapping. We import the resulting regular grid representation into ParaView, with which we extract isosurfaces across multiple variables. Our images provide insights into the evolution of the early universe, tracing the cosmic transition from an initially homogeneous state to one of increasing complexity. Specifically, our visualizations capture the build-up of regions of ionized gas around the first stars, their evolution, and their complex interactions with the surrounding matter. These observations will guide the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, the key astronomy mission of the next decade. Images produced with this technique have been submitted to the NSF Science Visualization Challenge and International Science Grid This Week.

Images produced with this technique have been submitted to the NSF Science Visualization Challenge and International Science Grid This Week.

For more information, including links to papers, images and video, please visit our First Stars website.