Astronomers have a long history of visualization. Going back only as far as Galileo, discoveries were made using sketches of celestial objects moving over time. Today, Astronomy inquiries can, and often do, make use of petabytes of data at once. Huge surveys are analyzed statistically to understand tiny fluctuations that hint at the fundamental nature of the Universe, and myriad data sets, from telescopes across the globe and in space are brought together to solve problems ranging from the nature of black holes to the structure of the Milky Way to the origins of planets like Earth. In this talk, I will summarize the state of partnerships between astronomical, physical, and computational approaches to gleaning insight from combinations of scientific and information visualization in Astrophysics. In particular, I will discuss how the glue linked-view visualization environment (http://glueviz.org), developed originally to facilitate high-dimensional data exploration in Astronomy and Medicine, can be extended to many other fields of data-driven inquiry. In addition, I will explain how the current open-source, plug & play, approach to software facilitates the combination of powerful programs and projects such as glue, WorldWide Telescope, ESA Sky, and the Zooniverse Citizen Science platform.
Alyssa Goodman is the Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy at Harvard University, and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Goodman’s work spans astrophysics, science education, data science, data visualization, and prediction. Her astrophysical research is aimed at understanding how interstellar gas arranges itself into new stars and on new techniques for measuring the structure of the Galaxy. She is the leader and founder of several efforts that use the WorldWide Telescope software to help teach science, and to make discoveries about the Universe. Goodman also leads the effort creating the high-dimensional linked-view exploratory data visualization software known as “glue,” as well as the HarvardX course called “PredictionX,” which traces the history of prediction from ancient times to modern simulations. Many of Goodman’s efforts come together under the umbrella of the “Seamless Astronomy,” collaboration based at the CfA, which she also organizes.