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 IU Trident Indiana University

Visualizations of Nuclear Pasta

Project Lead: David Reagan, Advanced Visualization Lab, Research Technologies, Indiana University

The Advanced Visualization Lab worked with IU Department of Physics professor Charles Horowitz to create visualizations of nuclear pasta, an extremely dense substance formed when dying stars explode in supernovae and collapse into neutron stars.

Using visualizations created with the AVL, Dr. Horowitz and his group are able to examine the formation and evolution of nuclear pasta. Dr. Horowitz presented his research to the public at the dedication of IU’s new supercomputer, Big Red II, using a stereoscopic video produced by the AVL. Dr. Horowitz will continue to use the workflow developed for this project to create visualizations to aid his research and exhibit at conferences and events.

Some massive stars die in giant supernova explosions that squeeze all of the empty space out of atoms until their nuclei start to touch and interact in complex ways to form a neutron star 100 trillion times denser than water. Dr. Horowitz and his group use IU’s supercomputers to simulate these events, where nuclei merge into spaghetti- and lasagna-like structures called nuclear pasta. The AVL utilized the open-source application ParaView to create stereoscopic visualizations which allow the researchers to study the formation of these intricate structures and explore their properties. By developing a workflow to take these simulations from text files to high definition videos, the AVL has empowered Dr. Horowitz to create his own visualizations in the future.

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Astronomy (201) - Astrophysics

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) - Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications