Despite our limited abilities to travel to distant objects in outer space that can be thousands of light years away - if not millions or billions of light years away - astronomers, computer scientists, and other specialists are developing 3D models of the stars with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and other telescopes. 3D modeling and printing objects in our Universe offers a unique tool to understand scientific data.
We offer two kinds of 3D printable objects in this section. The first is a set of specially-developed fully 3D models, and the second is a set of tactile plates that are developed as relief maps of images to help make the 2D data more experiential.
A binary star system of a red giant star and a white dwarf locked together by gravity. They orbit so closely that the outer layers of the red giant are pulled away by the gravitational force of the white dwarf. (More information)
In 1987, astronomers noticed a new source of light in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It was a spectacular explosion caused by the death of a massive star. (More information)
A Type Ia supernova, or when a white dwarf star pulls material from, or merges with, a nearby companion until a supernova explosion is triggered. The white dwarf is obliterated, sending its debris hurtling into space. (More information)
M16, also called the Pillars of Creation, is a nearby star-forming region. The Pillars, which are sometimes called elephant trunks due to their shape, are an example of the column-like shapes that develop in giant clouds of gas and dust that are the birthplaces of new stars. This 3D model depicts details about the orientation of the Pillars in space, mostly that the Pillars actually consist of several distinct pieces on either side of a star cluster. In this model, note that the relative distance between the pillars is not to scale.
This 3D print is based on combined high-resolution spectroscopic data from the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) with data from the Hubble Space Telescope by McLeod et al., 2015. (More information)
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Additional support from NASA's Universe of Learning (UoL). UoL materials are based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with Caltech/IPAC, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.