Cataclysmic Variables Matt Wood
cataclysmic variables matt wood


FITDisk Home

Fig 1: FITDisk Opening Screen

Fig 2: Starting a New Disk

Fig 3: FITDisk lets you plot simulation light curves and the associated Fourier Amplitude Spectrum

The cataclysmic variable group at The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) is happy to present FITDisk, our cataclysmic variable (CV) accretion disk simulator. FITDisk is a 3-D smoothed particle hydrodynamics code which simulates accretion disk formation and evolution in CVs. It provides an easy to use graphical user interface as well as 3-D interactive graphics and runs under the WindowsXP operating system. The current version of the code has the following capabilities: computes the evolution of a CV accretion disk, visualizes results in real time, records and plays back simulations, and generates and plots pseudo light curves and associated power spectra.

FITDisk was developed by putting a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) front-end onto our research hydrodynamics code. Our goal with this project has been to make the hydrodynamics simulations of CVs possible for interested amateur astronomers, students, and professionals. Whether in an instructional setting or at home on a personal computer, FITDisk can be a fun, easy way to learn about these exotic systems and to build a better physical intuition for accretion disk dynamics. Amateurs and professionals alike often observe CVs, yet no simple means exist by which one can visualize and experiment with these phenomena. FITDisk was designed to fill that gap, providing an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how these systems behave under a wide range of conditions.
In addition, FITDisk has its origins in a research code developed at Florida Tech and, apart from the addition of the GUI and OpenGL® based visualization, has been modified only slightly from its original form. Thus, it provides a unique opportunity for the non-specialist to use research-grade simulation software using readily available computer hardware and without requiring advanced programming skills.


FITDisk Executable and Help File (zip file)

FITDisk Reference Manual (PDF)

"FITDisk: A Cataclysmic Variable Accretion Disk Demonstration Tool"
M. A. Wood, J. Dolence, & J. C. Simpson (2005, Pub. Ast. Soc. Pacific, 118, 442-449).


If you've been using FITDisk and have suggestions, comments, or would just like to share your experiences, we'd like to hear from you! Please email Matt A. Wood at

(Last modified 3/21/09 by MW)