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We present an approach to visualizing particle-based simulation data using interactive ray tracing and describe an algorithmic enhancement that exploits the properties of these data sets to provide highly interactive performance and reduced storage requirements. This algorithm for fast packet-based ray tracing of multilevel grids enables the interactive visualization of large time-varying data sets with millions of particles and incorporates advanced features like soft shadows. We compare the performance of our approach with two recent particle visualization systems: one based on an optimized single ray grid traversal algorithm and the other on programmable graphics hardware. This comparison demonstrates that the new algorithm offers an attractive alternative for interactive particle visualization.