The program, called the Virtual Reality World Project (Verop), brings together what researchers call the largest data set in the universe to create “3D panoramic visualizations” of space.
Software engineers, astrophysicists and experimental museologists have gathered at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne to create a virtual map that can be viewed through individual VRs, and full immersion systems such as “panoramic cinema” with 3D glasses and dome-like screens. Celestial, or only through a two-dimensional computer.
“The novelty of this project put all the available data in one frame, where it is possible to view the universe at different scales, whether around the Earth, or around the solar system, or at the level of the Milky Way, to see the universe until the beginnings, or what we call the Big Bang,” he said. Jean-Paul Knepp, Director of the Astrophysics Laboratory at the Ecole Lausanne.
It’s like Google Earth, but it’s specific to the universe.
Computer algorithms generate tens of terabytes of data, producing images that can appear as close as a meter, or almost infinitely far away — as if you were sitting and looking at the entire visible universe.
The program aims to attract a wide range of visitors, whether scientists – looking to visualize the data they continue to collect – or the general public looking to explore the sky at least virtually.
The program has not yet been finalized, and the trial version cannot be run on a Mac computer.
The program gathers information from eight databases containing at least 4,500 known exoplanets, tens of millions of galaxies, hundreds of millions of space objects, and more than 1.5 billion light sources from the Milky Way alone.
But when it comes to potential data, the sky is literally the limit, as future databases could include asteroids in our solar system or nebulae, and pulsars farther into the galaxy.