Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Virtual Reality meets Astrophysics


The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) is launching a new Virtual Reality (VR) website. Offering 360 degree videos and panoramas, the new web portal invites visitors to experience the cosmos and to take virtual tours through astronomical observatories. The website can be navigated either in VR mode, using a VR-headset, or via touch and click on any display. All media is based on scientific results, simulations from supercomputers, or images from telescopes and observatories.

Astrophysicists get their insights of the universe and its objects from analyzing huge amounts of data from observations and simulations of stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects. Elaborate visualization methods make these data tangible.

With virtual reality glasses, one can see the distribution of dark matter (top) and gas in the universe (below).

Images: Arman Khalatyan/AIP; VR Icon: © subhanbaghirov / Fotolia; Photo montage: AIP

The videos allow the user to go on a VR excursion through our local cosmic neighbourhood. Its appearance changes dramatically with the kind of objects that are visualized – for instance dark matter, gas or stars. Enigmatic dark matter dominates the cosmic large-scale structure.

Stars and galaxies trace this structure. These three different views of the universe also demonstrate how real astronomical observations work, using different telescopes and instruments to decipher the different objects and building blocks of the universe.

“With simulations and VR we make the invisible visible,” says Arman Khalatyan, an AIP astrophysicist, IT specialist, the initiator and creator of the AIP VR website. He also produced the VR movies and most of the simulations that they are based on. “With simple VR headsets and free apps, VR technology can be used by everyone today. With our platform we now open the universe to everyone.”

The second part of the website invites the visitors to a virtual tour through different astrophysical observatories that are linked to the AIP due to telescope or instrument collaborations. If interested in the sun, one could choose a tour to the “Observatorio del Teide”, for instance. This international observatory is located at 2,400 meters above sea level on the island of Tenerife.

During a virtual tour of the campus one can enter and explore the dome of the solar telescope GREGOR or take a look at the other telescopes of the observatory. In the background one can see the Teide Mountain at 3,718 meter not so far away above the clouds. Fans of architecture may choose the tour to the Einstein Tower in nearby Potsdam. More observatories worldwide are planned to follow soon to extend the website experience.

“With this Virtual Reality project, we would like to tell stories about the universe and encourage the exploration of fascinating locations of astronomical research,“ explains Gabriele Schönherr, an astrophysicist, science communicator and co-initiator of the AIP VR project. “Modern astrophysical observations are an international effort. This thought becomes alive in Virtual Reality.”

Web portal:

Science contact: Dr. Arman Khalatyan, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, +49 331-7499 528,

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803,

Further images:

Image 1: Stars in the universe. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 2: A scientific representation of gas in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 3: A 360 degree image of gas in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 4: A scientific representation of dark matter in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 5: A 360 degree image of dark matter in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 6: A 360 degree photo of the “Telegrafenberg” with the Einstein Tower (in the middle) and the Great Refractor (left). Credit: AIP

Image 7: A 360 degree photo of the dome of the solar telescope GREGOR. Credit: C. Kuckein, C. Denker/AIP

The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Janine Fohlmeister | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm
23.03.2018 | Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics

nachricht Drug or duplicate?
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>