"Cassiopeia A Supernova" visualization for NASA/Skyworks Digital

About 330 years ago, a star in Cassiopeia exploded... the result is a supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A. NASA scientists have for the first time, created a multiwavelength three-dimensional model of the stellar material that was thrown off during the star's demise. Using X-ray data from the Chandra project, infrared data from the Spitzer project, optical data from the NOAA 4 meter Kitt Peak and the Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT 2.4 meter telescopes, NASA provided Home Run Pictures working through Skyworks Digital with a raw 3-D data set.

The challenge then was to convert the data into a model that could be used in our animation applications and create a visualization that the viewer could fly through. A plugin tool was created to convert the VTK data provided into a Maya compatible model. After sucessfully translating the NASA data into geometric shapes, those surfaces were used to generate clouds of thousands of particles to represent the debris... composed of iron, argon, and silicon, each represented by a different color.

It was then possible to fly through the particle model and get a fully three-dimensional look at the supernova. An animation starting at the center of the supernova and traveling out and then around the structure was created in HD.

Further details on how the data was created can be found at various NASA and educational web sites... http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/video09-001.html

Click here for Quicktime movie of Cassiopeia A supernova

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