Starlab is a software package for simulating the evolution of dense stellar systems and analyzing the resultant data. It is a collection of loosely coupled programs (``tools'') linked at the level of the UNIX operating system. The tools share a common data structure and can be combined in arbitrarily complex ways to study the dynamics of star clusters and galactic nuclei.


To some extent, Starlab is modeled on NEMO, a stellar dynamics software environment developed during the 1980s at the Institute for Advanced Study, in large part by Josh Barnes, with input from Peter Teuben and Piet Hut. Starlab differs from NEMO mainly in its use of UNIX pipes, rather than temporary files, its use of tree structures rather than arrays to represent N-body systems, and its guarantee of data conservation in piping. The first Starlab version was written by Piet Hut at Tokyo University in 1989, in the C language. in 1992, Piet Hut, Jun Makino and Steve McMillan adapted the package to C++, and developed its the central engine, Kira, for integrating stellar orbits with individual time steps. Subsequently, Simon Portegies Zwart contributed his SeBa package for stellar evolution, which is directly linked with Kira.


Piet Hut, Jun Makino, Steve McMillan, Simon Portegies Zwart.


In case you came here with another Starlab in mind, you can choose from the following namesakes:

Page last modified: .
Please direct comments, criticisms, corrections and contributions to Steve McMillan: steve (at)