Expo/Science & Industry/Whispers From the Cosmos

| Back | Up | Map | Glossary | Information |

Data Cube Representation

Sometimes it is easiest for astronomers to understand the shape of an object, and the motion of the material that constitutes it by visualizing a data set in three dimensions. The data set, called a data cube, is rotated to make more apparent all three dimensions of the cube.

A data cube is simply a three dimensional stacking of all the channel maps. Rather than seeing them sequentially as in the channel map movie, they are all visible at once through visualizing the cube as in the above movie. Being a compilation of channel maps, a data cube shows gas moving at all velocities, throughout the entire object. Two of a datacube's axes represent the spatial dimensions, while its third axis represents velocity.

Margaret Meixner, University of Illinois, on-camera
Movie/Sound Byte
QuickTime Movie (1.6 MB); Sound File (1.1 MB); Text

Here's a movie depicting a data cube computed from observations of S106, a star forming region about 2,000 light years away. The S106 datacube representation gives astronomers a rapid means to understand what parts of S106 are moving in which directions, and with what speeds, without having to read literally thousands of lines of data.

S106 Datacube
S106 Datacube Movie button
QuickTime (1.4 MB); MPEG (868K); Thumbnail (28K); Caption and Credits

Radio astronomer, Dick Crutcher, talks about this region, what it took to compute the datacube and the overall goals of this research.

Dick Crutcher, NCSA/Univ. of Illinois, on-camera
Movie/Sound Byte about S106
QuickTime Movie (1.7 MB); Sound File (994K); Text

Dick Crutcher, on-camera, continued
Movie/Sound Byte
QuickTime Movie (2.0 MB); Sound File (1.1 MB); Text

In another example of a data cube, the centimeter emissions from the center of the Milky Way are featured below. Note that when the image is viewed head-on, it corresponds to the 2-D representation (Sgr A West: 6 centimeter image) of the galactic center obtained with the Very Large Array and presented elsewhere in this exhibit.

Galactic Center
Galactic Center Movie button
QuickTime (1.6 MB); MPEG (984K); Thumbnail (26K); Caption and Credits

Return to Insight Through Images
Up to Computers: The Image Forming Elements

Exhibit Map
Information Center

Copyright © 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

NCSA. Last modified 11/13/95