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distEdTool      Reference Sheet



distEdTool The Distance Editing Tool Version 3.5 (DistEdTool, or DET) is a graphical interface for creating three-dimensional (3D) volumetric representations of astrophysical data, and comparing the 3D object with background texture maps created to display any two-dimensional (2D) astronomical data set (Hanson et al. 2003).


DET takes a large sample of data parsed to a required input standard.det format, and creates an editable 3-dimensional model of the locations and thickness of interstellar clouds towards individual stars or objects listed in standard.det. The input standard.det file is created by supplementary Perl software, or by hand-editing, which parses input data to the required specifications, subject to constraints, while retaining uncertainties.


The DET tool consists of several Perl scripts and one C-based OpenGL tool to interactively edit data presented standard.det format. The DET tool allows the user to create self-consistent models of cloud distances based on any cloud property, edit that model, and compare the cloud properties and locations with multispectral ISM data contained in background 2D texture maps. In principle, the DET tool can be applied to modeling any 3D distribution of astronomical objects, such as modeling the locations of intergalactic clouds. New background texture maps can be added by the user.  Information can be plotted in a rectangular l,b grid (galactic coordinates), or displayed by the software in planar, spherical, or aitoff coordinate systems.





Binaries and documents




  • The DistEdTool provides menu system for simulating 3D distribution of material from input data.

  • Perl scripts create input files with 3D cloud information (standard.det format).

  • Multispectral background 2D texture maps can be created for pixel-level comparison with input data.

  • Cloud surface triangulation is output for further processing.

  • Control panel converts between aitoff, spherical or rectilinear coordinate displays, with or without projection effects.

  • Alternate display and viewpoint options are provided for effective interactive editing.


Data Sources:

The Hipparcos catalog,, is included as a source for photometric data.



Software development lead: Philip Chi-Wing Fu.  Additional software: Yinggang Li.  Documentation: Yinggang Li,  Philip Chi-Wing Fu, Andrew Hanson, Priscilla Frisch.  Supported in part by   “Journey of the Sun” NASA grants  NAG 5-8163, NAG 5-13558, NAG 5-11999, awarded to the University of Chicago with subcontractor Indiana University.



Hanson, A. J., Fu, Chi-Wing, and Frisch, P. C., "Constraint-Based Astronometric Modeling Tools", in Geometric Modeling for Scientific Visualization  (Editors: G. Brunnett, B. Hamann, H. Mueller)  pages 437--452, (Springer-Verlag) 2003.

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