Fast Image-Based Modeling of Astronomical Nebulae



Astronomical nebulae are among the most complex and visually appealing phenomena known outside the bounds of the Solar System. However, our fixed vantage point on Earth limits us to a single known view of these objects, and their intricate volumetric structure cannot be recovered directly. Recent approaches to reconstructing a volumetric 3D model use the approximate symmetry inherent to many nebulae, but require several hours of computation time on large multi-GPU clusters. We present a novel reconstruction algorithm based on group sparsity that reaches or even exceeds the quality of prior results while taking only a fraction of the time on a conventional desktop PC, thereby enabling end users in planetariums or educational facilities to produce high-quality content without expensive hardware or manual modeling. In principle, our approach can be generalized to other transparent phenomena with arbitrary types of user-specified symmetries.