Visualization in Astrophysics: Developing New Methods, Discovering Our Universe, Educating the Earth

Part of IEEE VIS 2020

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. October 25-30, 2020.

Organizers

Juna Kollmeier
Staff Scientist
Carnegie Institution for Science
Director of the fifth phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V)
jak AT carnegiescience.edu

Lauren Anderson
Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow
Carnegie Institution for Science
landerson AT carnegiescience.edu.

Bei Wang
Assistant Professor
School of Computing
Scientific Computing and Imaging (SC) Institute
University of Utah
beiwang AT sci.utah.edu

Overview

The Workshop: Goals, Scope, and Focus

Astrophysics has been a primary beneficiary of Moore’s law. Advances in computational infrastruc- ture have enabled both our capacity to record increasing amounts of information for an increasingly large number of objects in the universe, and our ability to numerically predict the full evolutionary history of the universe.

Although we have benefited from these advances, we have not fully utilized these rich data sources, and we observe an even greater disparity in our future. Certainly, we have made major discoveries with these datasets, and our theoretical predictions are the most sophisticated the field has ever seen. However, with the next generation of advanced computations and surveys, we find ourselves face-to-face with a “digital tsunami” of both simulated and observed data. It is clear that our 20th century interrogation techniques will be insufficient for the task at hand. The data is too large and rich to be simplified to basic equations and summary statistics – the classical way we test our predictions, or to be visualized naively without careful consideration of its scale.

Generously, the same revolution that gave us this great wealth of data can also provide the solution. Far from a fantasy of the future, modern computational power is enabling us to visualize and analyze the complex data sets we are predicting and observing. We just need to bring these modern visual and analysis techniques to these rich datasets; we need to bring together experts from both visualization and astronomy.

Why Now?

Until relatively recently, we have been using traditional analytic and statistical methods to analyze the astronomy datasets. Typically the data were sufficiently simple that these techniques were adequate; this is no longer the case. For example, we now have very large quantities of high- dimensionality data, and by applying the same, old techniques to this data we are, necessarily, losing information. This information is hard-earned, either from years of surveying the sky or millions of hours of CPU computation time. In order to make the best use of this data, we must focus on novel methods of analysis and visualization.

Goals and Scope

With this workshop, we aim to bring together members of the astronomical community and members of the visualization community with the goals of discussing:

Focus

The focus of this workshop is to build connections and collaborations between these two communities: data-rich, but technique-starved astronomers, and data-hungry and technique-rich visualization experts. These connections are ripe with low hanging fruits, which can be discussed and worked on during a single day workshop. To facilitate a common language and collaborations, we will present visualization min-challenges with a well-curated astronomy dataset on the workshop website 6 months prior to the workshop. For more challenging problems/datasets, the workshop serves as a forum to establish the initial collaborations. It helps visualization researchers to understand astronomy datasets, and it offers astronomers an opportunity to understand existing visualization techniques and tools. Co-organizer L. Anderson has precisely a dataset and visualization mini-challenge appropriate to this goal. We will also solicit other data challenges from throughout the astronomical community for interested individuals. We anticipate that the solution to these data challenges will be published in the astronomical and perhaps visualization literature but will be publicly accessible through arXiv. We are confident that the very specific mini-challenge will serve to rapidly focus both groups on existing problems (rather than purely esoteric and/or theoretical grounds) and thus begin a larger cross-community dialog.

Planned Activities

TBD.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers

TBD.

Confirmed Invited Speakers

TBD.

Format

The workshop will be a half-day event.

Participants and Intended Audience

The workshop targets both visualization researchers and astronomers. We welcome participation from both the astronomy and visualization communities. We expect a reasonable presence of astronomers at the workshop given the large presence of astronomers at local universities. And given the dearth of visualization techniques currently available to the astronomical community, we also think this workshop, and it’s hands-on approach, will peak the interest of many non-local astronomers as well. The VIS 2020 conference ensures a quorum of visualization experts.

Schedule

Tentative Schedule

TBD.

Related Literature on Visualization in Astrophysics

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    A special focus issue from the PASP.

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  19. Walking Through an Exploded Star: Rendering Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A into Virtual Reality
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