ParaView for Astrophysics

In fact, the standard desktop application can read well over 100 different file formats that cover a wide range of application domains. ParaView is especially well suited to scientific areas that use techniques like the finite element, finite volume, and point set methods. Typically these techniques are applied to compute results on entities that are embedded in a three-dimensional space that we might see and recognize as shapes in the real world. ParaView inherits VTK’s data model, which is extensible but tailored primarily to this type of data. If a reader exists for a scientific data set or it can otherwise be translated into one of VTK’s data structures, ParaView will let you to view and analyze it easily. Especially in astrophysics, Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) techniques are widespread, because by discretizing the computational domain with multiple, overlapping, uniform grids of varying resolution, high-fidelity accuracy can be attained in regions of interest (ROIs), while memory and storage is conserved elsewhere. Halo finding algorithms are also common, for example to determine where the mesh needs to be refined in an AMR simulation. Data sizes produced from astrophysical and cosmological simulations tend to the extreme, in which case ParaView’s scalability is needed to visualize the results.


These ParaView resources are useful for analyzing astrophysical and cosmological data:

  • Calculator filters
  • CosmoReader – Cosmo and Gadget2 particle formats
  • Demand driven AMR slices
  • Enzo Reader – AMR astrophysics simulations
  • Flash Reader – AMR astrophysics simulations
  • GenericIO – HACC cosmology particle formats
  • GPU rendered point sprites in the Point Sprite Plugin
  • HOP Halo finder filter from the yt plugin
  • LANL Friend of Friend Halo finder filter