Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Ganesh Chanmugam


We perform three-dimensional radiative transfer calculations on the MasPar MP-1, which contains 8192 processors and is a single instruction multiple data (SIMD) machine, an example of the new generation of massively parallel computers. To make radiative transfer calculations efficient, we must re-consider the numerical methods and methods of storage of data that have been used with serial machines. We developed a numerical code which efficiently calculates images and spectra of astrophysical systems as seen from different viewing directions and at different wavelengths. We use this code to examine a number of different astrophysical systems. First we image the HI distribution of model galaxies. Then we investigate the galaxy NGC 5055, which displays a radial asymmetry in its optical appearance. This can be explained by the presence of dust in the outer HI disk far beyond the optical disk. As the formation of dust is connected to the presence of stars, the existence of dust in outer regions of this galaxy could have consequences for star formation at a time when this galaxy was just forming. Next we use the code for polarized radiative transfer. We first discuss the numerical computation of the required cyclotron opacities and use them to calculate spectra of AM Her systems, binaries containing accreting magnetic white dwarfs. Then we obtain spectra of an extended polar cap. Previous calculations did not consider the three-dimensional extension of the shock. We find that this results in a significant underestimate of the radiation emitted in the shock. Next we calculate the spectrum of the intermediate polar RE 0751+14. For this system we obtain a magnetic field of $\sim$10 MG, which has consequences for the evolution of intermediate polars. Finally we perform 3D radiative transfer in NLTE in the two-level atom approximation. To solve the transfer equation in this case, we adapt the short characteristic method and examine different acceleration methods to obtain the source function. These include the ALI method with local and non-local operators, the Ng and the orthomin methods and multi-grid methods. We apply these numerical methods to two problems with and without periodic boundary conditions.