I’ve been putting together a Blender toolkit for making astronomical visualisations for talks and outreach. Everything here is available under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. Basically you can take and use these resources for whatever you want, under the condition that you give credit and share what you’ve made.

How to use

Each of these resources is available as a .blend file, which should probably only be opened with Blender. To import a resource, you can FileAppend objects and materials into your own projects (you can also Link instead of Appending, but this only creates a reference to the original). For more info, RTM.

X-ray binary

This animation shows the formation of an X-ray binary. In a binary, the more massive star evolves faster, and explodes as a supernova to leave a neutron star. When the other star becomes a giant, it overflows onto the neutron star, forming a disc that is hot enough to emit X-rays.
.mp4 download (4 MB)
.blend file download (2 MB)

Polluted white dwarf

When an asteroid has a close encounter with a white dwarf, it can get shredded by the extreme tidal forces, and form a debris disc. As material from the disc is accreted onto the white dwarf, it pollutes the surface with heavy elements, which can be detected spectroscopically. Over time, the material sinks into the star, leaving the surface pristine once again.
.mp4 download (61 MB)
.blend file download (44 MB) (I’m not sure why this is so big – I think it might be the cached particle simulation)

Gas giant shader

This is a simple gas giant shader I put together – still a work in progress, but I’m happy where it is at the moment. You can set the band size and colours, as well as changing the ‘storminess’, which affects the small-scale distortions.
.blend file download (1 MB)