The astrophysics community uses different tools for computational tasks such as complex systems simulations, radiative transfer calculations or big data. Programming languages like Fortran, C or C++ are commonly present in these tools and, generally, the language choice was made based on the need for performance. However, this comes at a cost: safety. For instance, a common source of error is the access to invalid memory regions, which produces random execution behaviors and affects the scientific interpretation of the results.

In 2015, Mozilla Research released the first stable version of a new programming language named Rust. Many features make this new language attractive for the scientific community, it is open source and it guarantees memory safety while offering zero-cost abstraction.

We explore the advantages and drawbacks of Rust for astrophysics by re-implementing the fundamental parts of Mercury-T, a Fortran code that simulates the dynamical and tidal evolution of multi-planet systems.

Links: Article, Benchmark codes, Hacker news and Rust subreddit comments.

iSpec has been updated thanks to the contribution of several users:

  • Bug fix: Parameter determination not working properly from the visual interface
  • Bug fix: SME spectra was not correctly re-sampled before applying convolutions
  • MOOG now always computes molecular equilibrium for the most important species
  • Air <-> Vacuum conversion changed to follow IAU standard and VALD3

iSpec now supports several radiative transfer codes: SPECTRUM, Turbospectrum, SME, MOOG and SYNTHE/WIDTH9.

The Gaia Science Alerts reported in mid-september 2016 three supernovae candidates (among many others) that we observed and confirmed with mercator telescope: Gaia16bic, Gaia16bib and Gaia16biv. The first one is one of the most beautiful SN I have ever observed:

I observed the near earth object (NEO) 410777 2009FD from the Mercator telescope. It was so exciting that I built this animation where we can see it crossing the sky: