Magnetar Star

Completed March 24, 2011.

For my final project in my 3D Effects class, I wanted to experiment with the possibility of creating a unique type of star, because the geek in me is always fascinated by the artistic three-dimensional representational imagery on shows on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. I'd love having the opportunity to create graphics like that on a regular basis.

I decided to go with a magnetar because I found some pretty neat looking reference images. The closest magnetar to Earth, as you will see in this short clip, is 13,000 light years away, so everything we know about them is based off of our suspicions and best-guesses. One of the aspects I found most amazing about them is that they're incredibly small for a star—about 13 miles in diameter—but incredibly dense: one thimbleful of magnetar material weighs on the order of 100 million tons.

The video itself was created in Maya using dynamic effects; Maya fluids to be exact. I emitted my fluid from a sphere and animated it's density to stay put after being emitted. I textured the fluid with some simple expressions and a color ramp for the fluid's life. The rings themselves were ultra-thin geometry and the "energy" traveling along them were simple sprites facing the camera at all times. A few effects were achieved later in post to give it the extra "wow" factor.

My hopes from this project is to take what I've learned and acquired skill-wise to perhaps create a little "series" and create other types of celestial bodies, perhaps tackling a more complex one each time.