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The interactive 3-D astrophysical laboratory

Images inspire us. Images lead to ideas. Shape was made as a tool to test astrophysical inspiration. Play True or False. By finding out whether an idea works or not, either way, we deliver new insight into nature for ourselves and others. That is why with Shape we make 3-D images of the universe...and more...

Shape responds to your scientific creativity for morpho-kinematic modeling or spectral radiation transfer calculations.
Create schematic educational visualizations or even photo-realistic images of astronomical objects.

Our Introduction and Overview gives you more information about
what you can do with Shape.

UPDATE REQUIRED (January 21, 2022) 
Due to a bug in some renders after camera rotation, 
an update is needed. Please go to the DOWNLOADS for a link to the patch and instructions.


Shape was created by
Wolfgang Steffen and Nico Koning. 


Shape is free software supported by

the Institute of Astronomy, UNAM. 

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User Guide

Learn about the possibilities and limitations of astrophysical modeling and visualization in Shape. What types of physical models can be done. Whether you pursue research or outreach, find out what you can do and what you need to learn to successfully apply Shape in your field.


A quick tour is given through the integrated modules of Shape is given. We briefly describe how they work individually and how the general workflow brings everything together via interactive input but no need for a single line of coding from the user.


The modular design of Shape allows the user to concentrate on the job at hand. The desktop and the main toolbar are the hubs to get you around. In this section we describe the functionality of each of the modules, so you can quickly decide which one will be needed for your project.


Images, spatially resolved spectra and other data can be displayed as direct background references to build your models. Such data images need to be prepared carefully and correctly imported into Shape. In this section we describe how such data images can be prepared and set up in Shape.


Detailed knowledge of the various coordinate systems is necessary to correctly modeling in Shape. This is particularly true when kinematic are to be modeled. Here is a description of the coordinate systems in different contexts of the available tools. 


Mathematical and physical details about the radiation transfer on the Cartesian grid in Shape are described. The physics and approximations for the calculations of scattering on dust particles are also layed out.

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