Dusty Nebula
Making photorealistic nebulae:
Date: May 3, 2016

For quite some time we have been working on implementing features in Shape to make it easier to generate nebulae that look like the real thing. We recently generated a dusty nebula with four embedded stars that illuminate the dust. It also includes a jet seen in emission lines. See the blog entry on 3D Astrophysics for more details.

New masters thesis:
Date: August 20, 2015

Recently Luis Carlos Bermúdez finished his Master´s Thesis on the subject "The influence of deviations from a homologous expansion on the 3-D reconstruction of multipolar planetary nebulae" (Original Title in Spanish: "Influencia de las Desviaciones de una Expansión Homóloga en la Reconstrucción 3D de Nebulosas Planetarias Multipolares") at the Institute for Astronomy (UNAM) in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Based on hydrodynamical simulations of multipolar planetary nebulae, this work studies the deviations from a homologous velocity field and the resulting flaws in 3-D reconstructions that would appear if a homologous expansion was be assumed.

Download tesis (in Spanish)
Fifth introductory course on Shape
Date: May 20, 2015

At the "Centro de Radioastronomía y Astrofísica" (UNAM) in Morelia, Mexico, the fifth introductory course on Shape was held during the week from May 10-15. The ten participants learned from basic morpho-kinematic modeling of expanding nebulae, complex density modeling, photo-ionized regions to animated simulation of dust scattering in a star-forming cloud and hydrodynamics set up interactively in the 3D Module.

New paper in press!
Date: April 25, 2015

The complex gas kinematics in the nucleus of the Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 1386: rotation, outflows and inflows
D. Lena, A. Robinson, T. Storchi-Bergman, A. Schnorr-Müller, T. Seelig, R. A. Riffel, N. M. Nagar, G. S. Couto, L. Shadler
The Astrophysical Journal, in press

Download Preprint

Shape model of Eta Car 3D-printed in Titanium shown on Sixty Symbols
Date: April 11, 2015

The Shape 3D model of the Homunculus nebula around Eta Carinae features prominently in a YouTube video of the science channel Sixty Symbols. The model was 3D printed in Titanium at the University of Nottingham and discussed by Michael Merrifield. Link to the 10 minutes long video or click on the image on the left.

Press release illustration in Science Magazine and international press!
Date: April 3, 2015

Observing the onset of outflow collimation in a massive protostar
C. Carrasco-González, J. M. Torrelles, J. Cantó, S. Curiel, G. Surcis, W. H. T. Vlemmings, H. J. van Langevelde, C. Goddi, G. Anglada, S.-W. Kim, J.-S. Kim, J. F. Gómez
Science Magazine, Vol. 348 no. 6230 pp. 114-117

Shape was used to produce the press release illustrations for this paper. A 3D hydrodynamic simulation from the hydro module was processed directly in Shape to yield the final images which includes radiation from masers, dust scattering and free-free emission from the shocked stellar wind. We also produced an illustrative video which contains a time sequence of the simulation shows how the wind was collimated by the density profile of the circumstellar medium. The image has been feature on a number of online-news outlets including CBS and Space.com

New paper in press!
Date: March 17, 2015

The distance to Nova V959 Mon from VLA imaging
Linford, J.D., Ribeiro, V.A.R.M., Chomiuk, L., Nelson, T., Sokoloski, J.L., Rupen, M.P., Mukai, K., O´Brien, T.J., Mioduszewski, A.J., Weston, J.
The Astrophysical Journal, in press

For its publication in Science Magazine we produced images with SHAPE that illustrate the evolution of the environment of a protostar that is surrounded by masers. The images were generated using the hydrodynamics module and processing the result using filters, textures and a variety of species. The maser spots were produced by selecting high density material in the expanding shock region of the stellar wind and directional scattering perpendicular to the central star. The evolutionary video, shows the variability of the maser sources as the shock expands.

Download Preprint

Summary of Shape activity 2014
Date: January 20, 2015

The highlights of 2014 (and Jan. 2015) include the hoped for expansion of the applications of Shape to areas beyond planetary nebula research. With ALMA coming online, kinematic observations of circumstellar matter in the sub-millimeter range we start to see more applications of Shape in this wavelength range. Although finally published in January 2015, the first paper along those lines was that by Decin et al. (2015) on spiral structures in the circumstellar envelope of CW Leo.

A key feature that will make Shape more attractive to ALMA users is the integration of ShapeMol as a standard module, which allows CO radiation transfer, taking advantage of Shape's capability to generate highly complex 3D structures. ShapeMol was originally written by Miguel Santander-García and was later fully integrated into Shape as described in Santander-García et al., (2015).

Ribeiro et al. (2014) showed that continuum radio astronomy of nova explosions can benefit from non-spherical models. Clyne et al. (2014) presented a highly complex model of the Etched Hourglass Nebula MyCn18 with impressive similarity to the HST image.

In their work on many young PNe, Hsia et al. (2014) showed that extensive 3D modeling of these nebulae can help to demonstrate the presence of multipolar structures. For instance, the planetary nebula (NGC 6309) turns out to be a multipolar according to the model by Rubio et al. (2015).

We congratulate Ashkbiz Danehkar on his PhD thesis The evolution of planetary nebulae with Wolf-Rayet Central stars, which contains morpho-kinematic Shape models based on IFU observations.

The modeling and 3D-printing of the Homunculus Nebula around Eta Carinae based on VLT X-Shooter data made a bit of a splash (Steffen et al., 2014). It was nice to see that this result made it to the Astronomy Picture of the Day on July 17. The original publication in MNRAS and a follow up in the ESO Messenger included a 3D figure in the PDF format of the papers. This allows the reader to explore the structures interactively.

We had the pleasure to help new users get beginner and advanced knowledge on how work with Shape during two courses/workshops, one at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester (USA) and the other at the Institute for Astronomy at UNAM, Ensenada (Mexico).

Just before the end of the year we started a blog on 3D Astrophysics at 3dastrophysics.wordpress.com. There is a direct link to it on the navigation bar of the ShapeSite. The idea is to discuss all things 3D in astrophysics, which hopefully will help awareness about techniques, ideas and results related to the structure of things in the universe. Please subscribe to it to get automatic notification of new blog entries.

In terms of publications, Shape got off to a slow start, but then in September and October several papers got accepted, sometimes with just a day of difference. Therefore, as the graph on the left shows (click here for a high-res version), there have been seven refereed papers published last year and an equal number has already been published or accepted in the first two weeks of 2015. Regarding publications it was a great pleasure to see the list surpass the magic number 100, published or accepted, just before the year ended. The number 100 was for Staff et al. (2014) who demostrated that Shape can be used for high resolution visualization and analysis of magneto-hydrodynamic simulations.

Hopefully, 2015 will bring further expansion of Shape into new areas, thereby justifying its new designation as a virtual interactive astrophysical laboratory.

New Tutorial
Introducing the 3D Astrophysics blog
Date: January 5, 2015

There is a new item on the top menu bar of the ShapeSite! It is a direct access to our new blog called "3D Astrophysics", where we have started to discuss "all things 3D in astrophysics". The idea is to comment on methods and results of 3D astrophysics not only from Shape reconstructions and simulations, but mainly from other sources. We hope to serve as a central hub for interesting current and future developments in this quickly evolving field in many areas of astrophysics. You can have a look at the first postings here.

New Tutorial
New video tutorial!
Date: November 20, 2014

A new video tutorial is available in the 3D Module area of the Learning Center. The tutorial is an introduction to the Particle Draw tool. It allows the user to interactively apply particles to or near a 3D surface using a cursor that is restraint to move along the surface. It can be applied, for example, to generate filamentary structures that precisely follow those in observations. Watch the tutorial in high definition here.

Shape Logo
Installer Files Updated!
Date: November 19, 2014

The installer files for Shape on the Installer Downloads Page has been updated to the version compiled on November 18, 2014.

In addition to bug fixes, some updates of the user interface, especially in the 3D Module have been included. The tool bar on the left of the 3D Module is now collapsed to serveral tabs for the different sections. The size of the panel for the Object Tree on the right can now be made larger or smaller by dragging the bar underneath with the little dots. If you have compatibility or any other issues loading projects that have been generated with a previous version, please let us know. To make sure, you may want to keep a copy of your previous installation directory to revert to that version if necessary.

Paper number 100!
Date: November 14, 2014

HST-Scale 3D simulations of MHD disc winds : A rotating two-component jet structurer
J. Staff, N. Koning, R. Ouyed, A. Thompson, R. Pudritz
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press

This is a very special entry in the publications list, it is publication number 100! Marking the occasion, we are preparing a summary of highlights in the development of the software and scientific publications since its first publication in 1996 and rebirth as an interactive 3D software in 2006. So, stay tuned!

In paper #100 Shape has been used to visualize, analyze and produce sytnthetic observations of ZeusMP 3D magneto-hydrodynamic simulations of MHD disc winds.

Download Preprint

This year´s Halloween Paper
Date: October 31, 2014

NGC 6309, a planetary nebula that shifted from round to multipolar
G. Rubio, R. Vázquez, G. Ramos-Larios, M.A. Guerrero , L. Olguín, P. F. Guillen , H. Mata
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press

In this paper a quad-lobed model for NGC6309 was developed.

Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: October 24, 2014

ALMA data suggest the presence of a spiral structure in the inner wind of CW Leo
L. Decin, A.M.S. Richards, D. Neufeld, W. Steffen, G. Melnick, R. Lombaert
Astronomy and Astrophysics, in press

In this paper the molecular CO line module in SHAPEMOL is applied to model ALMA observations of the post-AGB star CW Leo.

Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: October 24, 2014

SHAPEMOL: a 3-D code to calculate CO line emission in planetary and protoplanetary nebulae
M. Santander-García, V. Bujarrabal, N. Koning, and W. Steffen
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press

In this paper the molecular CO line module in Shape is presented and its application demonstrated in for the planetary nebula NGC 6302.

Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: October 23, 2014

Internal Proper Motions in the Eskimo Nebula
M.T. García-Díaz, L. Gutiérrez, W. Steffen, J.A. López, J. Beckman
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press

In this paper Shape was used to apply a criss-cross mapping analysis to the internal proper motions.

Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: October 23, 2014

A Detailed Study of the Structure of the Planetary Nebula, Hb 12, The Matryoshka Nebula
D.M. Clark, J.A. López, M.L. Edwards, C. Winge
The Astronomical Journal, 148:98 (9pp)

In this paper Shape was used to model the structure and kinematics of the inner region of Hb 12.

Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: October 17, 2014

VLT observations of the asymmetric Etched Hourglass Nebula, MyCn 18
N.Clyne, M.P.Redman, M.Lloyd, M.Matsuura, N.Singh, J.Meaburn
Astronomy & Astrophysics, 569, 50

In this paper Shape was used to model the structure and kinematics of a highly structured bipolar planetary nebula.

Download Preprint

New Proceedings Papers
Date: October 4, 2014

There are three new proceedings papers on models for non-spherical nova ejecta, including the time evolution of the radio emission by Ribeiro et al., ASP Conference series.
See the publications page for details and preprints.

In this paper Shape is applied to model various the morphology and radio lightcurve of asymmetrical nova ejecta.

New Paper
Date: August 27, 2014

Hints of a second explosion (a quark nova) in Cassiopeia A Supernova
R. Ouyed, D. Leahy, N. Koning
Research in Astronomy, in press

In this paper Shape is applied to generate the complex schematic illustration of the effect of a quark nova in Cass A.

Download Preprint

Solution to Shape user interface freezing in Mac OSX
Date: August 21, 2014

On Apple Mac OSX systems Shape may freeze when minimized
using the minimize ("-") button in the top right corner.
Solution: Double click on the blue border area at the top to the left of the minimize button.
Thanks to Alba Aller for finding this solution. We will work on fixing this problem.

RIT Workshop
Shape Workshop at Rochester Institute of Technology
Date: July 29, 2014

A small workshop on Shape was held at the Rochester Institute of Technology during the week of July 21-25. This was the first international workshop after 3 similar events had been held in Mexico at INAOE, University of Guadalajara and UNAM, Ensenada. During the workshop users had the opportunity to learn and apply Shape to their current research projects which included problems on the BLR and NLR in Seyfert galaxies and planetary nebulae. New Shape feature suggestions by the participants were coded and tested during the workshop. The new software version that includes these and other new features will be released soon. The event was organized by Andrew Robinson and Joel Kastner and was held at the RIT School for Physics and Astronomy.

The image on the left includes most of the participants (click on image for larger version). Standing (left to right) Davide Lena, Marcus Freeman, Lucas Shadler, Nico Koning. Sitting: Thaisa Storchi-Bergmann, Andrew Robinson, Wolfgang Steffen. Other participants: Triana Almeyda and Joel Kastner

New Paper
Date: July 14, 2014

Radio-Frequency Models of Novae in Eruption: I. The Free-Free Process in Bipolar Nebulae
Ribeiro, V.A.R.M., Chomiuk, L., Munari, U., Steffen, W., Koning, N., O'Brien T.J., Simon, T., Woudt, P.A., Bode, M.F., 2014,
The Astrophysical Journal, in press

In this paper Shape is applied to study the spectral lightcurve of bipolar nova nebulae.
Download Preprint

New Paper
Date: July 8, 2014

The three-dimensional structure of the Eta Carinae Homunculus
W. Steffen, M. Teodoro, T. I. Madura, J. H. Groh, T. R. Gull, A. Mehner, M. F. Corcoran, A. Damineli and K. Hamaguchi, 2014,
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

In this paper Shape is applied to generate geometric 3D models of the molecular hydrogen emission of the Eta Carinae Homunculus nebulae. See the NASA/GSFC press release on this publication.
SPECIAL FEATURES: This paper includes an interactive 3D figure and a 3D-printable version of the Shape model.

New Paper
Date: May 2, 2014

Hubble Space Telescope observations and geometric models of compact multipolar planetary nebulae
Chih-Hao Hsia, Wayne Chau, Yong Zhang, Sun Kwok, 2014,
The Astrophysical Journal, 787, 25 (19pp)

In this paper Shape is applied to generate geometric 3D models of multipolar nebulae.

New Project Templates
Date: April 9, 2014

New project templates are available for a hydrodynamic simulation of a supernova overruning a high density ring and a template for customizing the 3D views and surface visualizations that might be useful for complementary visualizations in publications.

See the Templates page in the Learning Center for more information and to download the project templates.

New Project Templates
Date: March 12, 2014

Exoplanet Transit Lightcruve & Nebula Outline with Math Expression

The first template demonstrates how to set up an outline of a nebula that is described by an analytic function of space coordinates. The second template has a setup to simulate the light curve of a transiting exoplanet.

See the Templates page in the Learning Center for more information and to download the project templates.

New Paper
Date: March 10, 2014

Quark Nova Signatures in Super-luminous Supernovae
Kostka, N. Koning, R. Ouyed, D.A. Leahy, Steffen, W., 2014,
Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica (RevMexAA), in press

In this paper Shape is applied to compute lightcurves and detailed variable spectral line shapes of the ejecta from a quark nova.

New Paper
Date: February 27, 2014

Observations and three-dimensional photoionization modelling of the Wolf–Rayet planetary nebula Abell 48
A. Danehkar, H. Todt, B. Ercolano, Y. Kniazev, 2014
MNRAS (2014) doi: 10.1093/mnras/stu203

In this paper Shape is applied to generate a 3D structure based on imaging and kinematic observations. The resultant 3D structure was then used in the software MOCASSIN for a detailed photoionization model.

 dust cloud
New Project Template: Interstellar Dust Cloud
Date: February 18, 2014

This is a new project template with an interstellar dust cloud covering a field of background stars. Two stars are embedded in the cloud itself and their light is scattered by the cloud. When rendered with in different wavebands, the change in opacity of the dust can be nicely visualized. The image on the left is a rendering in the Near Infrarred.

New Project Template: Happy Valentine's Day
Date: February 14, 2014

Get your heart in shape! It is never too late.

Happy Valentine's day! You can't persuade yourself to do any science in Shape today? Check out the latest project template on how to create your Valentine greeting in Shape.

New tutorial: Fast interactive Preview
Date: January 29, 2014

A new video tutorial in the Topics section of the Learning Center describes how to apply the fast interactive preview capability of the Hydrodynamics Module to preview any object, even if it is not meant to be used for a hydrodynamics simulation. This video tutorial is recommended for all users, new and experienced.

Templates added to Learning Center
Date: January 16, 2014

In order to help beginners get started with Shape, we have added a page with project templates to the Learning Center. Access the templates pages in the link list on the right side of the Learning Center index or right here! It starts with a few very simple projects and becomes progressively more complex. We will continue adding more templates which illustrate the various aspects of modeling with Shape. The templates are also meant as starting projects that can be adapted to new research project.

Summary for 2013
Date: January 6, 2014

Happy New Year to all of you!

The past year has been dominated by the final stages of development of Shape Version 5, strongly supported by its users giving feedback on the beta version. Version 5 has new modules and features that considerably increase the range of applications for Shape (hydrodynamics, magnetic and gravitational fields, molecular CO radiation transfer, new modifiers). To the ShapeSite we added a Learning Center based on video tutorials, which already has tutorials for the most important features, but is still under construction.

During 2013 there have been 9 refereed publications that have made usage of Shape in a variety of ways, including the classical morpho-kinematic modeling technique, as a visualization and analysis tool for external hydrodynamic simulations, but also, for the first time, with simulations done with the new internal hydrodynamics module. Note that three of the publications have been on the structure of the ejecta in novae and almost all the others on pre-planetary nebulae, rather than the more evolved planetary nebulae, which used to be the main field of application for Shape. In terms of journals MNRAS has now most publications with Shape applications, closely followed by The Astrophysical Journal. Click on the images on the left to see the statistic in high-resolution versions.

In November and December we had the opportunity to present Shape Version 5 in demo sessions at two meetings. In November there was the "Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae VI" conference in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and in December at the "Astropheres: From the Sun to Red Supergiants" at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, Netherlands.

The new release of Shape includes a new way of installing the software with installers for the different operating systems. This replaces the rather badly working Java Webstart concept, that we have been using in earlier versions. This new way of installing Shape is much easier and hardly ever fails. Thanks to the efforts of independent developers, the compatibility of the Java3D library, that Shape uses for its interactive 3D module, has been improved and is now included explicitly in Shape. This has fixed the freezing problem that used to occur on some systems. We consider the currently available version of Shape the "official release" (version December 20, 2013).

We wish you all the best for 2014!

Wolfgang and Nico

A new video tutorial and a software update are available
Date: November 27, 2013

A Shape software update is now available which includes a new feature that allows external ascii data to be analyzed and visualized in Shape. A corresponding new video tutorial has also been provided with instructions on how to load and visualize external data.

New video tutorials have been added to the Learning Center
Date: October 3, 2013

An introduction to Modifiers in general and in particular to the Density and new Texture Modifiers have been added to the Learning Center. The Texture Modifier is new to version 5 of Shape and allows very detailed custom structure to be added to a model. Using this modifier detailed features of a particular object can be reproduced thereby making models more accurate. Follow this link to the corresponding tutorial playlist.

MacOSX users can finally get their science in Shape again!
Date: August 25, 2013

The way to install the software required to properly run Shape on MacOSX has been created and found! We are indebted to Miguel Santander-Garc�a and his brother-in-law for finding the way and the files to make this installation possible. We should also thank Harvey Harrison, who has done the programming that Apple didn�t bother to do. Please go to the INSTALLER page for more detailed instructions on how to install Shape on your Mac. Enjoy!

New paper in press!
Date: August 20, 2013


Title: A wind-shell interaction model for multipolar planetary nebulae

W. Steffen, N. Koning, A. Esquivel, G. Garcia-Segura, Ma. T. Garcia-Diaz, J.A. Lopez, M. Magnor, 2013,
MNRAS, in press

Download the preprint here.

logo shapemollogo hydro module
New sections available in Learning Center!
Date: August 14, 2013


There are new sections available in the Learning Center for the Hydrodynamics Module and ShapeMol, the molecular modeling capabilities.

New paper published!
Date: July 15, 2013


Title: Outflows from Evolved Stars: The Rapidly Changing Fingers of CRL618

B. Balick, M. Huarte-Espinosa, A. Frank, T. Gomez, J. Alcolea, R.L.M. Corradi, D. Vinkovic, 2013
The Astrophysical Journal, 2013, 772:20 (11pp)

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: June 19, 2013


Title: Spatio-kinematic modelling of Abell 65, a double-shelled planetary nebula with a binary central star

L. Huckvale, B. Prouse, D. Jones, M. Lloyd, D. Pollaco, J.A. López, T.J. O�Brien, L. Sabin, N.M.H. Vaytet, 2013
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: May 15, 2013


Title: Morpho-Kinematical Modelling of Nova Eridani 2009 (KT Eri)

V.A.R.M. Ribeiro, M.F. Bode, M.J. Darnley, R.M. Barnsley, U. Munari, D.J. Harman, 2013
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: May 14, 2013


Title: CK Vul: evolving nebula and three curious background stars

M. Hajduk, P.A.M. van Hoof, A.A. Zijlstra, 2013
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), Advance Access published April 12, 2013

Download from MNRAS.

New paper in press!
Date: March 15, 2013


Title: Optical morphology, inclination and expansion velocity of the ejected shell of Nova Monoceros 2012

V.A.R.M. Ribeiro, U. Munari, P. Valisa
2013, The Astrophysical Journal, in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: February 1, 2013


Title: Kn 26, a New Quadrupolar Planetary Nebula

M.A. Guerrero, L.F. Miranda, G. Ramos-Larios, R. Vázquez
2013, Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press

Download the preprint here.

First paper for 2013 in press!
Date: January 21, 2013


Title: Post-AGB Bipolar Reflection Nebulae: Result of Dynamical Ejection or Selective Illumination?

Koning, N., Kwok, S., Steffen, W.
2013, The Astrophysical Journal, in press

Download the preprint here.

Summary for 2012
January 10, 2012

First of all we wish everyone a very happy and successful new year!

The year 2012 was the most successful so far in terms of published papers with contributions from Shape. With 16 journal publications, refereed papers have gone up by almost 100 percent compared to previous years (see top Figure on the left; click on it to see a high resolution version). The distribution of journals in which papers have been published is dominated by The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and The Astrophysical Journal as can be seen in the bottom figure on the left. We would like to thank all the authors for using the software and for their support that makes the development a great pleasure.

Some of the papers published this year clearly illustrate the power of the interactive 3D modeling approach with Shape, producing results that would have been very difficult to achieve with conventional software. Recently, Chong et al. showed that many of the observed bipolar and multipolar structures that have been observed, can actually be very closely reproduced by basically a single multipolar 3D structure seen at different viewing angles.

Modeling of molecular objects is becoming more and more important for Shape as is documented in the work by Nakashima et al. and Santander-García et al. Santander-García et al. introduced a novel way to compute explicit CO radiation transfer with Shape. They modeled NGC 7027 with 3D emission and absorption coefficients computed with their external application ShapeMol. We are working on the incorporation of their algorithm into Shape such that in the future no external software will be required for such computations. For now, don´t hesitate to contact us or Miguel S.-G. if you are interested in such a model for an object that you have observed. ALMA observations will soon bring a lot of data that will require complex molecular 3D modeling.

Another result that could hardly have been produced so clearly without Shape is that the Eskimo, the Cat´s Eye and the Saturn nebulae must be extremely close relatives, since they basically have the same 3D structure and expansion properties only seen from different directions (see the paper by García-Díaz et al.).

The work by Ouyed et al. on quark nova explosions as a model for hyperluminous supernovae has shown that the physics, animation and graph modules can be put to work together in a very effective way to model complex dynamical processes, leading to very detailed modeling of spectroscopic variability and lightcurves. It also proves the applicability of Shape in fields of astrophysics that deviate considerably from the traditional applications in planetary nebulae and classical novae.

We encourage the reader also have a look at the other interesting papers that have been published troughout 2012 and before.

What is to come in the new year that has just begun? Of course, it is hard to predict what scientific insight Shape might bring, but in 2011 we announced a new version of the software with a important new features. Well, we are a bit behind the release date that we anticipated, but we are working hard on the new version, which we are testing and working on the finishing touches for a beta testing release. Hopefully, many of you will help testing Shape before its final release, thereby helping us to polish the programme and the supporting help information.

Thank you again for using and contributing to Shape.

Hopefully see you soon at APN 6 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Wolfgang and Nico.

New paper published!
Date: November 24, 2012


Title:Multipolar Planetary Nebulae: Not as Geometrically Diversified as Thought

S.-N. Chong, S. Kwok, H. Imai, D. Tafoya, J. Chibueze
2012, The Astrophysical Journal, 760, 115

Download the preprint here.

Memory settings for Shape for Windows installer too low!
Date: November 24, 2012


The default Java maximum memory assignation is only 256 MB for the Shape Windows executable from the Downloads page. This low memory assignment is too low for most applications and quickly makes the software to become slow and might freeze even with simple models. We therefore recommend to increase this setting by the following procedure. Locate the installation directory, probably in c:\Program Files\Shape. There you will find the file "Shape_v5.0.vmoptions" (you can, of course, also start an automatic search for this file to locate the directory). Open this file with Notepad or some other editor. In this file uncommend the line # -Xmx512m by deleting the #. We recommend to increase the 512 to 1024 on 32 bit system, or, depending on your needs, even higher for 64 bit systems. Now save this file and restart Shape. Feel free to contact us for more detailed information or any questions regarding Java memory settings.

Java 7 problems on Mac
Date: November 13, 2012


Shape startup problems with Java 7 webstart on Macintosh

Some Shape users have experienced problems after recent Java updates to version 7 when starting Shape using the "run Shape" button on the ShapeSite. It appears that there is a compatibility issue of Java 7 with some components used in Shape. Apparently Shape is not the only application affected by this issue. Here is a link to the Apple website with instruction on how to revert to Java 6. Please, let us know if this does not resolve your startup problem. We are happy to assist you. Apple support site with instructions on how to revert to Java 6 on Macintosh.

New paper in press!
Date: November 6, 2012


Title: A detailed morpho-kinematic model of the Eskimo, NGC 2392: A unifying view with the Cat's Eye and
Saturn nebulae

Ma. Teresa Garc�a-D�az, José Alberto López, Wolfgang Steffen, Michael G. Richer
2012, The Astrophysical Journal, in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: October 5, 2012


Title: A detailed spatio-kinematic model of the conical outflow of the multipolar planetary nebula NGC 7026

David Clark, José Alberto López, Wolfgang Steffen, Michael G. Richer
2012, The Astronomical Journal, in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: September 20, 2012


Title: CO Structure of the 21 Micron Source IRAS 22272+5435: A Sign of a Jet Launch?

Jun-ichi Nakashima, Nico Koning, Nikolaus H. Volgenau, Sun Kwok, Bosco H. K. Yung, Yong Zhang
2012, The Astrophysical Journal, in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: July 19, 2012


Title: Modeling the physical and excitation conditions of the molecular envelope of NGC 7027

M. Santander-Garc�a , V. Bujarrabal, and J. Alcolea
2012, Astronomy and Astrophysics, in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: June 25, 2012


Title: 3�D modelling of the collimated bipolar outflows of compact planetary nebulae with WR�type central stars

S. Akras & J.A. L�pez
2012, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), in press

Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: May 16, 2012


Title: [Fe iii] emission lines in the planetary nebula NGC2392

G. Zhang, X. Fang, W. Chau, C.-H. Hsia, X.-W. Liu, S. Kwok, and N. Koning
2012, ApJ, in press

From images and new spectroscopic observations that include lines of [Fe iii] the authors conclude that the object is similar to the bipolar Ant Nebula which has similar iron lines.
Download the preprint here.

Problem with Firefox !! UPDATE MAY 5, 2012
Date: May 4, 2012


Problems starting Shape from ShapeSite using Firefox

We found that new users who try to start Shape from the RUN SHAPE button on the top menu of this website and are using the Firefox browser might find that the program does not start. We recommend to try Windows Explorer or some other browser instead. We found that this worked when at the same time with Firefox it did not. Currently it is not clear what exactly is causing this problem. If you have similar problems and solutions, please let us know (including any error messages that you might get). This will help us to diagnose the problem. This problem appears to affect only Windows users.

We apologize for the inconvenience,

Wolfgang & Nico

UPDATE ON SOLUTION: The newest Firefox 12.0 does not have the problem. Please, update to the latest version.

Note: New users make sure to install Java3D from http://java3d.java.net/binary-builds.html

New paper in press!
Date: April 27, 2012


Title: Discovery of Multiple Shells Around the Planetary Nebula IC418

G. Ramos-Larios, R. V�zquez, M.A. Guerrero, L. Olgu�n, R.A. Marquez-Lugo and H. Bravo-Alfaro
2012, MNRAS, in press

The paper contains an analysis of optical, near-, and mid-IR images of the bright planetary nebula (PN) IC418.
Download the preprint here.

New paper is out!
Date: April 25, 2012


Title: Interactive Visualization and Simulation of Astronomical Nebulae

S. Wenger, M. Ament, W. Steffen, N. Koning, D. Weiskopf, M. Magnor
2012, "Visualization Corner" of Computing in Science & Engineering, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 78-87, May-June 2012.

The paper describes some of the recent advances in computer graphics on the reconstruction of the 3D structure of astronomical nebulae for visualization purposes.
Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: April 21, 2012


Title: Extremely Strong 13CO J = 3!2 Line in the �Water Fountain� IRAS 16342-3814: Evidence for the Hot-Bottom Burning

H. Imai, S.N. Chong, J.-H. He, J. Nakashima, C.-H. Hsia, T. Sakai, S.Deguchi, N. Koning
2012, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (PASJ), in press.

This paper discusses the origins of the very low 12CO to 13CO intensity ratio, as possible evidence for the �hot-bottom burning� in an oxygen-rich star, and the CO intensity variation in IRAS 16342-3814
Download the preprint here.

New paper in press! Watch the 3D ANIMATION FEATURE with sound here.
Date: March 29, 2012


Title: Quark nova imprint in the extreme supernova explosion SN 2006gy

R. Ouyed, M. Kostka, N. Koning, D.A. Leahy, and W. Steffen
2012, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), in press.

This paper provides detailed time resolved modeling of the light curve and spectral line shape variability of the extreme supernova SN 2006gy. This is the first example of this type of modeling done in Shape.
Download the preprint here.
Watch the 3D animation movie with sound here.

New paper in press!
Date: March 28, 2012


Title: Bubbles and knots in the kinematical structure of the bipolar planetary nebula NGC 2818

R. V�zquez
2012, The Astrophysical Journal, in press.

A kinematical and spectral analysis of the beautiful nebula NGC 2818 is presented.
Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: March 15, 2012


Title: �Distance mapping� and the 3�D structure of BD +30 3639;

S. Akras & W. Steffen
2012, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), in press.

This paper introduces the new kinematic analysis technique called "distance mapping" and applies the technique to determine the distance to BD+30 3639 and constrain a 3D model of the nebula.
Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: March 5, 2012


Title: "Morpho-kinematic analysis of the point-symmetric, bipolar planetary nebulae Hb 5 and K 3-17, a pathway to poly-polarity "

J. A. L�pez, Ma. T. Garc�a-D�az, W. Steffen, H. Riesgo, & M. G. Richer,
2012, The Astrophysical Journal, in press.

This paper presents a spectro-kinematic study of Hubble 5 and K 3-17 including a highly detailed morpho-kinematic model of Hubble 5.
Download the preprint here.

New paper in press!
Date: February 16, 2012


Title: "A study of the kinematics and binary-induced shaping of the planetary nebula HaTr 4 "

A.A. Tyndall, D. Jones, M. Lloyd, T.J. O'Brien, D.Pollaco,
2012, MNRAS, in press.

In addition to detailed imaging and spectroscopic data in the optical, this paper presents a morpho-kinematic model made with Shape.
Download the preprint here.

Shape news and publication summary for 2011: ADDENDUM
Date: February 7, 2012

It was brought to our attention that there was a third PhD thesis that was concluded in 2011. We congratulate David Jones, from the University of Manchester, to his thesis "The Influence of Central Star Binarity on the Morphologies of Planetary Nebulae". David is now a Fellow at the European Southern Observatory (http://www.sc.eso.org/~djones/ESO/Home.html). Some of his results related to the application of Shape have already been published (for preprints see the publications page on this site).

All the best for his future career,
Wolfgang and Nico


Shape news and publication summary for 2011
Date: January 06 2012


“Images inspire us. Images lead to ideas. We made Shape as a tool to test inspirations. Play True or False. By finding out whether an idea works or not, either way, we deliver new insight into nature for ourselves and sometimes even for others.” This citation from the “Why Shape?” page of the ShapeSite is proven true by the results delivered during 2011 by new and established Shape users around the globe. Also this year we would like to briefly summarize the activities around Shape.

First of all, we would like to welcome all new users to our growing community of Shape users.
A PhD is a key hurdle and achievement for a future professional astrophysicist. Therefore, we are very pleased to announce the completion of two doctoral theses that include work with Shape. In February Valério Ribeiro obtained his PhD with the thesis “Investigation of nebular remnants of novae”, where he used Shape to derive the 3D structure of the expanding remnant of nova RS Oph.

Nico Koning obtained his PhD in August with the thesis “The 3D Morphology of Proto-Planetary Nebulae”, where he presents new ways of interpreting the observed structure of proto-planetary nebulae, including the point-symmetry that some of them show. His thesis also contains a detailed description of the inner workings of the Shape software. A paper derived from his PhD work has the title “Morphology of the Red Rectangle Proto-Planetary Nebula” (see the publications page on the ShapeSite). In this work he applies complex scattering radiations transfer computations that are possible with the physics module of Shape to model this intriguing object.

A first developer-independent application of the new criss-cross mapping technique was presented by Szyszka, Zijlstra and Walsh, where it helped to pin-point the kinematic center of NGC 6302 in their paper “The Expansion Proper Motions of the Planetary Nebula NGC 6302 from HST imaging” where they measured the internal proper motion at more than 200 positions.

Velázquez et al. used Shape to analyze and visualize data from hydrodynamic simulations. As Shape develops further data analysis and visualization are becoming a more and more important application.

Other publications include new morpho-kinematic models, from more or less simple structure to highly complex models, such as the one by García-Díaz et al. of the Cat´s Eye Nebula. In their poster presentation of the IAU Symposium 283 they conclude that the structure of the Cat´s Eye Nebula is surprisingly similar to that of the Saturn Nebula, only seen from completely different viewing angle.  Along a similar line, at the same conference, Sze-Ning Chong in her talk showed that “Multipolar planetary nebulae: [are] Not as geometrically diversified as thought”. With an impressive display of a single 3D model viewed from different direction she cautioned the audience that the interpretation of 3D structure based only on images may easily go terribly wrong.   

This year also saw the development of a new kinematic analysis technique. Stavros Akras introduced “distance mapping”, where a 3D morpho-kinematical model together with internal proper motion measurements in BD+30 3639 is used to derive a map of distances at the position of the proper motion measurements. The aim is to improve on existing distance measurements. In principle all these distances should be the same. Within the limits of measurement errors, the map should be consistent with a single value for the distance to the object. If systematic deviations from uniform noise are found, then the map can be used to constrain the 3D model. The model can be adjusted until the distance map is “flat”.
To summarize, here are the numbers of the publications: We registered 2 PhD theses, 8 refereed journal papers and 8 conference papers. Note that the journal papers include the paper on “Shape: A new 3D modeling tool for astrophysics” by Steffen, W., Koning, N., Wenger, S., Morisset, C., Magnor, M., which has been in press for over a year. This paper is the standard reference for the Shape software (for details see the Credits page).

As a taste for things to come during the New Year, we would like to mention that we are working on a number of new features for Shape.  These include the first interactive astrophysical hydrodynamics tool that will not require any programming intervention by the user to set up initial and boundary conditions. This new module is fully integrated in the interactive 3D environment of Shape and can be combined with conventional morpho-kinematic modeling. The results can be analyzed and visualized directly in Shape while the simulation is running. The user can also intervene in the simulation changing parameters and boundary objects, parameters and positions without interrupting a simulation. It will be a very effective exploratory and learning tool for those already familiar with hydrodynamic simulations and those who want to work with them but do not want to get into programming. See the movies below for a test visualization of a planetary nebula that was generated with new hydrodynamics module.

Below are several volume renderings of a high resolution 3D magneto-hydrodynamical simulation of a jet done with a hydrodynamics code external to Shape (ZEUS AMR). All renderings have been done in Shape at 1024x1024 image resolution, including the spectral line emission computation (middle) magnetic field line visualization (right). The jet simulations where performed by R. Ouyed et al. You can watch more animations at the Quark Nova Project website.

Shape rendering of high resolution 3D jet simulation ZEUS AMR Jet Volume Rendering ZEUS AMR Jet Volume Rendering

We wish you a happy 2012!

Wolfgang and Nico


Contributions with Shape models at the IAU Symposium 283 in Teneriffe last summer!
Date: December 13, 2011


Last summer's IAU Symposium on Planetary Nebulae held on the Spanish island of Tenerife had several oral and poster contributions with some of the most sophisticated Shape models to date. We have put together the preprints that we could obtain from their authors on the publication page. The proceedings will be published by Cambridge University Press.


New paper by Ramos-Larios et al. in press!
Date: December 5, 2011


Title: "Optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy of the multiple-shell planetary nebula NGC6369 " .

G. Ramos-Larios, M.A. Guerrero, R. V�zquez and J.P. Phillips,
2012, MNRAS, in press.

In addition to detailed imaging and spectroscopic data in the optical and infrared, this paper presents a morpho-kinematic model made with Shape.


San Pedro Mártir Catalogue of Planetary Nebulae is now online!
Date: November 8, 2011


Title: "The San Pedro Mártir Kinematic Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae " .

López, J. A., Richer, M. G., García-Díaz, Ma. T., Clark, D. M., Meaburn, J., Riesgo, H., Steffen, W., & Lloyd, M.,
2012, RevMexAA, 48, 3, in press.

This catalogue contains long-slit high-resolution echelle spectra of about 600 galactic planetary nebulae. It represents a prime data resource for 3D modelling with morpho-kinematic programs such as Shape.

The online-catalogue can be found at http://kincatpn.astrosen.unam.mx


New paper by Velazquez et al.
Date: October 13, 2011


Title: "Multipolar young planetary nebulae modeled as a precessing and orbiting jet with time-dependent ejection velocity " .

To be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

For this paper Shape was applied to produce animated views of the simulations at different viewing angles.

New paper by N. Koning,S. Kwok, W. Steffen
Date: July 15 2011


Title: "Morphology of the Red Rectangle Proto-Planetary Nebula " .

To be published in The Astrophysical Journal

This paper presents a new model of the Red Rectangle which naturally explains the enigmatic ladder rungs as an optical effect caused by the edge on view of the system.

New paper by M.S. Westmoquette, L.J. Smith, J.S. Gallagher III
Date: July 13 2011


Title: "Spatially resolved optical IFU spectroscopy of the inner superwind of NGC 253" .

To be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

This paper presents spatially resolved observations and morpho-kinematical modeling with Shape of the central ionization cone in the galaxy NGC 253.

New proceedings paper by Jones, D., Tyndall, A.A., Huckvale, L., Prouse, B., Lloyd, M.
Date: June 10 2011


Title: "Spatio-kinematic modelling: Testing the link between planetary nebulae and close binaries"

To be published in the proceedings of the conference "Evolution of Compact Binaries", ESO - Viña del Mar, Chile, March 2011.

This paper discusses how morpho-kinematic modeling with tools like SHAPE might influence the debate on binarity of the central stars of planetary nebulae.


New paper accepted by C. Szyszka, A.A. Zijlstra, J.R. Walsh
Date: May 18 2011


Title: "The Expansion Proper Motions of the Planetary Nebula NGC 6302 from HST imaging"

To be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

This paper includes the first developer-independent application of our criss-cross mapping technique.

New paper accepted by P. Velazquez, W. Steffen, A. C. Raga, S. A. R. Haro-Corzo, A. Esquivel, J. Canto, A. Riera
Date: March 31 2011


Title: "Shaping the Red Rectangle proto-planetary nebula by a precessing jet"

To be published in The Astrophysical Journal


New PhD thesis by Valério A.R.M. Ribeiro
Date: February 14 2011


Title: "Investigation of nebular remnants of novae"

Liverpool John Moores University

Advisor: Prof. Mike Bode

See Publications page to download the pdf file.


New Mirror Site
Date: January 07 2011


We have created a mirror to the Shape site! If you experience problems with the server such as slow downs or crashes, you can use an alternative mirror site. Please see the mirror site page.


Temporary Server
Date: January 05 2011


Recently there was a major server crash and the website was moved to a temporary server. You may experience some slow down, especially when loading some of the more graphic heavy pages. We are sorry for any inconvenience.


Website updates
Date: January 02 2011


We are in the process of updating some parts of the webpage. If you notice anything out of place please let us know. Also if you would like to suggest something for the page we will be more than happy to entertain any ideas.


Shape news and publication summary for 2010
Date: January 01 2011


This year, user and development activity around Shape has been so intense that we would like to thank all the users for applying Shape. We also highlight some of the contributions that they have made to astrophysics.

A major new release of Shape has introduced a number of new features, a new interface and an extensive online manual.

The frontpage of the ShapeSite shows a visual summary of the papers that have been published or accepted for publication this year. It nicely shows the high level of acceptance that Shape has received by now. The type of problems that have been worked on range from morpho-kinematic models of simple to very complex planetary nebulae, CO-emission in pre-planetary nebulae, supernova remnants, the fast expansion of novae and physical scattering calculations in the Red Rectangle.

The application of Shape to the analysis of internal proper motion measurements of a planetary nebula has lead to the development of a brand new kinematic mapping technique called criss-cross mapping.

Here are a few examples of conclusions that have been drawn from some models:

Munari et al. have shown that the evolution of the H alpha profile of the very fast nova V2672 Oph "suggests that the overall structure of the ejecta is that of a prolate system with polar blobs and an equatorial ring".

Meaburn et al. used Shape to model the very peculiar "Honeycomb" nebula and showed that its apparent structure is likely due to a fortuitous orientation of hydrodynamical instabilities of a supernova remnant.

This year has also seen the first publication based on the automatic 3D reconstruction capabilities of Shape. This result by Nakashima et al. has made it onto the cover of the Astronomical Journal.

The number of papers published or accepted in a year has risen considerably. Refereed journals have already published 6 papers and 5 are in press. The Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae V conference in England saw 9 contributions, 5 oral and 4 posters, with Shape models and reconstructions. Further poster contributions were presented at the HST 3 meeting in Venice, Italy, and at the Eurographics conference in Sweden.

There is also an undergraduate thesis that was completed this year by Sergio Martínez González from Puebla, Mexico. He studied how non-homologous expansion of planetary nebulae changes the morphology during their evolution, taking advantage of the animation module of Shape.

Many Shape models have been produced by students for their thesis work. We hope that Shape will help many more young, and not so young, astronomers to understand what is going on in the objects that they are working on.

For the list of papers that contain results obtained with Shape see the publications page.

We wish you a happy 2011!

Nico and Wolfgang