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A WebGL interactive particle viewer
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Aaron Geller
Aaron Geller fixed typo
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Firefly snapshot

Firefly is an interactive particle viewer designed for FIRE data, written in WebGL using the three.js library. A live version is available here. This package should not be confused with the serendipitously named web-based visualization software Firefly, from Caltech-IPAC, a general tool for retrieving and viewing astronomy data.

If you use Firefly, please cite us using the ADS listing that points to our Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) entry.


To install Firefly (on any operating system), please clone this GitHub repository :

$ git clone --recursive

Or, if you prefer, you can download the zip file and unpack it.

You will also need a browser; we recommend Firefox or Google Chrome. To import your own data into Firefly, you will also need Python; we recommend installing Anaconda Python version 3.x .

Note: On June 11, 2019 we removed some excessively large files from the .git pack. See the documentation here. If you have cloned this repo prior to June 11, 2019 and want to update your local repo, please remove your local copy and clone this repo again. (This will reduce the disk space used from >600MB to about 30MB.)

Running Firefly

To start Firefly, you can simply open the index.html file with your browser. If you prefer Chrome, you may need to host your own server. This is easy to do by executing the following python command within the directory that contains your index.html file:

$ python2 -m SimpleHTTPServer
$ python3 -m http.server

Once this SimpleHTTPServer is running, you can open Chrome, and enter the url : http://localhost:8000/ . (This SimpleHTTPServer step should not be necessary with Firefox, but may be necessary with other browsers.)

This will open the data set included within this repository. If you want to use your own data, you will first need to convert your data to the format needed by Firefly. You can do this with the python tools in the data directory. Please see the wiki page for more details.

Additional Docs

Additional documentation is available on the wiki page associated with this repository.


Primary Developers

  • Aaron Geller
  • Alex Gurvich

Past Contributors

  • Mike Cronin
  • Zach Hafen
  • Alessandro Febretti

Student Contributors

  • Mahlet Shiferaw
  • Luolei Zhao

Project PI

  • Claude-André Faucher-Giguère


This tool builds off of a previous version developed by Alessandro Febretti.

This project is funded by Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), Northwestern's IT Research Computing group, and NSF grants AST-1412836, AST-1715216, and CAREER award AST-1652522 awarded to Claude-André Faucher-Giguère.

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