“Flight to the Center of the Milky Way” by National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)

  • ©  National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)


SIGGRAPH Video Review:




    Flight to the Center of the Milky Way

Company / Institution / Agency:

  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)


    At the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applica-tions, we created a virtual journey to a black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The journey begins 26,000 light years from the galactic center at the position of our sun, where we accurately map 118,000 stars from the Hipparcos star-catalog data. The Milky Way is surrounded by a collection of 36,000 background galaxies, based upon Brent Tully’s galaxy catalog.

    The Milky Way 3D model is based on a high-resolution image of M83, a Milky Way-like galaxy. We created particle groups for stars, birthing star regions, gas, dust lanes, and H2 regions totaling 57 million particles.

    We modeled the galactic-center elements based on high-resolution images from a vari-ety of wavelengths, including radio, infra-red, optical, and X-ray, and we consulted with astronomers Mark Morris of UCLA and Doug Roberts of Northwestern University to accu-rately model the galactic center.

    In collaboration with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Thomas Lucas Productions, a modified version of this visu-alization appears in the digital full-dome show “Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity.”


    Star Renderer
    Linux Visualization Cluster

Additional Contributors:

    Producer/Art Director: Donna Cox

    Art Director/Camera Choreographer: Robert Patterson

    Visualization Programmer: Stuart Levy

    Music/Sound Design: Robert Patterson

    Science Advisors: Mark Morris, Doug Roberts

    Milky Way Reference Image, M83: David Malin, Anglo-Australian Observatory

    Observational Data: Hipparcos Star Catalog, Brent Tully Galaxy Catalog, Frel/Gunn Galaxy Catalog

Animation / Video Overview: