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Over the past few years, the role of visualization for scientific purpose has grown up enormously. Astronomy makes an extended use of visualization techniques to analyze data, and scientific visualization has became a fundamental part of modern researches in Astronomy. With the evolution of high performance computers, numerical simulations have assumed a great role in the scientific investigation, allowing the user to run simulation with higher and higher resolution. Data produced in these simulations are often multi-dimensional arrays with several physical quantities. These data are very hard to manage and to analyze efficiently. Consequently the data analysis and visualization tools must follow the new requirements of the research. AstroMD is a tool for data analysis and visualization of astrophysical data and can manage different physical quantities and multi-dimensional data sets. The tool uses virtual reality techniques by which the user has the impression of travelling through a computer-based multi-dimensional model.
VisIVO is an integrated suite of tools and services specifically designed for the Virtual Observatory. This suite constitutes a software framework for effective visual discovery in currently available (and next-generation) very large-scale astrophysical datasets. VisIVO consists of VisiVO Desktop - a stand alone application for interactive visualization on standard PCs, VisIVO Server - a grid-enabled platform for high performance visualization and VisIVO Web - a custom designed web portal supporting services based on the VisIVO Server functionality. The main characteristic of VisIVO is support for high-performance, multidimensional visualization of very large-scale astrophysical datasets. Users can obtain meaningful visualizations rapidly while preserving full and intuitive control of the relevant visualization parameters. This paper focuses on newly developed integrated tools in VisIVO Server allowing intuitive visual discovery with 3D views being created from data tables. VisIVO Server can be installed easily on any web server with a database repository. We discuss briefly aspects of our implementation of VisiVO Server on a computational grid and also outline the functionality of the services offered by VisIVO Web. Finally we conclude with a summary of our work and pointers to future developments.
Splotch is a light and fast, publicly available, ray-tracer software tool which supports the effective visualization of cosmological simulations data. The algorithm it relies on is designed to deal with point-like data, optimizing the ray-tracing calculation by ordering the particles as a function of their 'depth', defined as a function of one of the coordinates or other associated parameters. Realistic three-dimensional impressions are reached through a composition of the final colour in each pixel properly calculating emission and absorption of individual volume elements.