Cyberhubs: Virtual research environments for astronomy

Falk Herwig, Robert Andrassy, Nic Annau, Ondrea Clarkson, Benoit Côté, Aaron D'Sa, Sam Jones, Belaid Moa, Jericho O'Connell, David Porter, Christian Ritter, Paul Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Collaborations in astronomy and astrophysics are faced with numerous cyber-infrastructure challenges, such as large data sets, the need to combine heterogeneous data sets, and the challenge to effectively collaborate on those large, heterogeneous data sets with significant processing requirements and complex science software tools. The cyberhubs system is an easy-to-deploy package for small-to medium-sized collaborations based on the Jupyter and Docker technology, which allows web-browser-enabled, remote, interactive analytic access to shared data. It offers an initial step to address these challenges. The features and deployment steps of the system are described, as well as the requirements collection through an account of the different approaches to data structuring, handling, and available analytic tools for the NuGrid and PPMstar collaborations. NuGrid is an international collaboration that creates stellar evolution and explosion physics and nucleosynthesis simulation data. The PPMstar collaboration performs large-scale 3D stellar hydrodynamics simulations of interior convection in the late phases of stellar evolution. Examples of science that is currently performed on cyberhubs, in the areas of 3D stellar hydrodynamic simulations, stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis, and Galactic chemical evolution, are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The cyberhubs project is building on a previous Canarie-funded CANFAR project Software-as-a-service for Big Data Analytics, in which the first version of WENDI was built with pre-JupyterHub tools. Further funding was provided by NSERC USRA, NSERC Discovery, EcoCanada, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant no. PHY-1430152 (JINA Center for the Evolution of the Elements). Previous undergraduate students in the Coop program of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Victoria who have directly or indirectly contributed are William Hillary and Daniel Monti, who developed the initial versions of the NuGridPy software. Luke Siemens has made significant contributions to an initial version of the new and more general version of WENDI based on JupyterHub. The data sets and software tools in NuGrid’s WENDI cyberhub were developed by members of the NuGrid collaboration ( The motivation for this paper described in the introduction was previously expressed, in part, in CANFAR’s CFI proposal “Astronomy Cyber-laboratories Platform,” PI Falk Herwig, submitted in October 2017. We also acknowledge support for our large simulations on the Blue Waters machine at NCSA with PPMstar from NSF PRAC awards 1515792 and 1713200, as well as support for work at Minnesota on these simulations and construction of means to serve and share the data from NSF CDS&E grant 1413548.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • methods: Data analysis-stars: Abundances
  • stars: Evolution


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