Saturday, October 26, 2013

White Dwarfs in Three Dimensions

A short while ago my good friend Silvia Toonen finished her PhD in Astrophysics. The title of her thesis is "The Evolution of Close Binaries with White Dwarf Components". She honored me with two things: to be one of her paranimfs during her defense and also to design the cover of her thesis. After trying a number of things I finally convinced her a anaglyph cover would be totally awesome. Anaglyph, for those who are not familiar with the name, are the 3D images where you use red&blue glasses.  

With some internet research and some playing around with programs like Inkscape I discovered it wasn't that hard create a nice 3D effect with little effort. In the end getting something that I was really content with proved a lot of work, but it was worth it.

Some explanation is needed on what you're looking at. First of all her research topic is double star systems, so called binaries where at least one of the star is a white dwarf. A white dwarfs, as you all know, is a star at the end of it's career (wiki), and they are thought to play an important role in supernovae.
Back to the cover. The 3D part behind the title represents a double star system. In Silvia's last name the o's are replaced by a Roche Lobe. When two stars have close orbits they start to share matter which is called a Roche Lobe, and this is a schematic representation of that. To create this final image I had to use Matlab to draw the two orbiting sphere and orbits seen from two different angles. To turn the two images into an anaglyph image I settled for a program I found an online solution called StereoPhoto Maker. Finally putting it all together in Inkscape et voila!

No comments:

Post a Comment