January 20, 2009

The Role of Computer Simulations in Exoplanetology

Computer SimulationA few posts ago, I have predicted about the huge potential of utilizing computer simulations to help in the theoretical aspects of Exoplanetology.
This latest software in data visualization is a welcome news in the field: It makes analysis and visualization of huge data sets possible without the aid of a supercomputer. It's algorithm slices up data into more manageable chunks, then stitches it back together on the fly, so that the data can be manipulated in three dimensions, all on a computer with the power and capacity of a high-end laptop.
I think it will help amateurs to jump in on any data intensive field of research that deals with huge data sets, and make visualizations. I can't wait to download this software and run my own simulations of planet-formations.
I will keep a close watch as it will be released as open source sometime in March.

Now here's the surprise:

A few days after reading about that software and drooling over it in my sleep, some news came about a computer simulation that solved how massive stars form. A three-dimensional computer simulation was used to model the collapse of a giant interstellar gas cloud to form a massive star. Now I do not know what software they used to pull off such a feat. Did they get an early edition of the software I was raving about? It's all shrouded in secrecy.
Whatever the case, the role of computer simulations will be a very important factor in Exoplanet Research in the coming years. And with Open Source Software, it will indeed be very interesting for amateurs and enthusiasts in the field.