Space

Stunning 3D visualizations let you explore the cosmos in your browser

Stunning 3D visualizations let...
Still from a simulation showing a representation of the nova outburst that took place on the white dwarf star U Scorpii in 2010
Still from a simulation showing a representation of the nova outburst that took place on the white dwarf star U Scorpii in 2010
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Still from a simulation showing a representation of the nova outburst that took place on the white dwarf star U Scorpii in 2010
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Still from a simulation showing a representation of the nova outburst that took place on the white dwarf star U Scorpii in 2010

A collection of computer simulations based on data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory is offering astronomers and the public alike the ability to explore fascinating cosmic objects in 3D. The visualizations let users pan around stars and stunning supernovae remnants.

The models were compiled from data collected by a number of powerful X-ray observatories, including the Chandra telescope, by researchers from the Computational Fluid Dynamics Group.

Ordinarily, scientists are hamstrung by the cold hard fact that they will only ever be able to observe deep sky objects from a fixed perspective. Sci-fi-esque faster-than-light travel is, sadly, beyond us at this point in time, and so we will never get to see what, for example, the Orion Nebula looks like from another angle.

By creating 3D models of objects from the best available data, astronomers can gain a greater understanding as to some of the key properties of an object, such as its velocity and geometry. For the rest of us laypeople who lack a degree in advanced physics, the models grant us the rare opportunity to explore the structural beauty of these distant cosmic wonders at our leisure.

The simulations focus around stellar processes. They range from the birth of a star, to forms of activity that can occur on its surface, and also give examples as to what is left behind after a star dramatically ends its life in a supernova.

Each of the spectacular visualizations is accompanied by a detailed caption.

The simulations are available free of charge on the Sketchfab page of Salvatore Orlando – one of the researchers responsible for creating the models.

Source: Chandra X-ray Observatory

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