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A Complete fiasco - Dealing with Atomic Data and a Pythonic Solution


Atomic data is used ubiquitously throughout the astrophysics and astronomy community. Whether it is performing radiative transfer calculations in a protoplanetary disk or interpreting observed spectra in the solar corona, observers and modelers alike rely heavily on vast amounts of detailed atomic data. These databases, which contain data from both laboratory experiments and large simulation codes, are often difficult to access, have no common format, and require a great deal of effort (and funding) to assemble. One such example is the CHIANTI atomic database which has been maintained continuously since 1995 and is heavily used by solar physicists. Recently I’ve begun work on a package called fiasco (the Italian name for the style of bottle used to store a Chianti wine) which provides a high-level interface to the CHIANTI database. In this talk, I’ll discuss the difficulties of working with this data, the software and techniques used to parse the data, and the high-level interface. Additionally, and most importantly, I will discuss the possible use of fiasco as a general interface to any atomic database and how this might extend the usefulness of the package into the general astronomy community. My hope is that this last point in particular will generate much discussion and interest in how to improve programmatic interfaces to this type of data.


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