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  • Writer's picturePrithish Halder

Crafting Realistic Cosmic Dust

Updated: Mar 9, 2023


Realistic Cosmic Dust generated using REST

The dust particles found in space are termed as cosmic dust which comprises of comet dust asteroid dust, interplanetary dust (IDP), interstellar dust (ISD), protoplanetary dust, circumstellar dust and intergalactic dust. Out of all kinds of cosmic dust particles, the dust particles present in our Solar System are some of the most extensively studied. For example, the different Earth based measurements of IDPs and space missions such as Giotto, Stardust and Rosetta provide an overall understanding of different physical and chemical properties of cosmic dust particles. These studies indicate the presence of a wide variety of morphologically significant dust particles. In order to interpret the various optical and thermal emission observations of in different regions of space it is necessary to build computer modelled dust structures having different shape, size, porosity, bulk-density, aspect ratio and material composition. The different samples of IDPs collected from Earth's stratosphere and other space missions indicate an irregular structural morphology. Even the collected fractal aggregates have irregular grains.


To generate morphologically irregular and/or rough surface cosmic dust particles, I have developed a Java package called REST (Rough Ellipsoid Structure Tools). REST is a collection of multiple algorithms written in Fortran devised to craft realistic cosmic dust particles from spheres, superellispoids and fractal aggregates. The application asks the users to choose from different types of particles such as Poked structures (PS), Rough surface (RS) structures, Poked superellipsoids (PS-SE), Rough superellipsoids (RS-SE) and Rough Fractal Aggregates (RFA). In case of RFA particles, REST asks the user to upload a structural file (Radius, X,Y,Z and composition tag) of a fractal aggregate having spherical grains. It also asks the user to enter the desired seed points for space and material. After entering the desired input parameters, the user can click the "Calculate" button to start the calculation. The final structure is generated following the desired seed points and other physical parameters. The particles generated using REST can be visualized by clicking the "3D Plot" button. REST uses the PyVista python module to visualize the generated VTK files of the structures.


An overview of the package REST

This study has been published in the The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (ApJS) and the paper is available for download from the link below:



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