IRIS: A generic three-dimensional radiative transfer code

L. Ibgui, I. Hubeny, T. Lanz, C. Stehlé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Context. For most astronomical objects, radiation is the only probe of their physical properties. Therefore, it is important to have the most elaborate theoretical tool to interpret observed spectra or images, thus providing invaluable information to build theoretical models of the physical nature, the structure, and the evolution of the studied objects. Aims. We present IRIS, a new generic three-dimensional (3D) spectral radiative transfer code that generates synthetic spectra, or images. It can be used as a diagnostic tool for comparison with astrophysical observations or laboratory astrophysics experiments. Methods. We have developed a 3D short-characteristic solver that works with a 3D nonuniform Cartesian grid. We have implemented a piecewise cubic, locally monotonic, interpolation technique that dramatically reduces the numerical diffusion effect. The code takes into account the velocity gradient effect resulting in gradual Doppler shifts of photon frequencies and subsequent alterations of spectral line profiles. It can also handle periodic boundary conditions. This first version of the code assumes local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) and no scattering. The opacities and source functions are specified by the user. In the near future, the capabilities of IRIS will be extended to allow for non-LTE and scattering modeling. Results. IRIS has been validated through a number of tests. We provide the results for the most relevant ones, in particular a searchlight beam test, a comparison with a 1D plane-parallel model, and a test of the velocity gradient effect. Conclusions. IRIS is a generic code to address a wide variety of astrophysical issues applied to different objects or structures, such as accretion shocks, jets in young stellar objects, stellar atmospheres, exoplanet atmospheres, accretion disks, rotating stellar winds, cosmological structures. It can also be applied to model laboratory astrophysics experiments, such as radiative shocks produced with high power lasers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA126
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Methods: numerical
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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