A powerful open source beta software from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) creates, in real time, a virtual universe on the most detailed contemporary data in a virtual environment developed in the EPFL Astrophysics Laboratory (LASTRO).
The software is called VIRUP (Virtual Reality Universe Project) and a first beta version has been released. One piece of data: means rendering terabytes of data at 90 frames per second.
At the moment, VIRUP can already visualize data from more than 8 grouped databases (some include a repertoire of more than 3,000 satellites that orbit the Earth, as well as various skins and textures to render the objects). VIRUP also generates scientifically sound and contemporary research-based simulation data sets.
Thanks to VIRUP simulations, the 4,500 exoplanets discovered so far can also be visited. Some of the next steps could be to include databases of objects in our solar system like all asteroids, or various other objects in the galaxy like nebulae and pulsars.
To enjoy a fully immersive 360-degree experience, you would need a pair of virtual reality glasses and a computer to run the VIRUP engine, as well as storage space to hold your selection of astrophysical and cosmological data .
VIRUP is also capable of building a virtual universe in other virtual reality environments, such as a dome that is especially useful for places like planetariums or caves.
With the launch of VIRUP comes a short film entitled “Archeology of light”, a possible journey through the virtual universe made possible thanks to open software . The 20-minute film starts from Earth and traces a journey through the various scales of the universe, from our solar system to the Milky Way, to the cosmic web and relic light from the Big Bang.