Astera is a cosmological visualization tool currently being developed at the University of Southampton. Running on a modified version of Unreal Engine, this software renders large cosmological simulations in real time, allowing for interactive, first person control of the universe you have simulated. Although not currently ready for public release, we are excited to show you some of what we are working on.
We use hundreds of galaxy images extracted from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to represent our galaxies. Any dataset can be used to describe their coordinates and characteristics, but our default dataset is based on the Bolshoi Simulation. These assets are combined using the cutting edge semi-analytic and semi-empirical techniques we use at the University of Southampton to build a mock universe; the result is a visually realistic galaxy catalogue for you to explore at your leisure.
Astera can render many millions of galaxies simultaneously. Fly though the cosmic web and witness the effects of the mysterious underlying distribution of dark matter firsthand. Experience the universe on the largest scales, in a structure that is composed of distinct galaxies.
Astera supports spiral galaxies, lenticular galaxies and the massive elliptical galaxies that reside in the centre of clusters. We have also introduced active galaxies, or AGN, which host a staggeringly bright accreting supermassive black hole. Each galaxy is represented by one of hundreds of hand-picked astronomical images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
To better show off large-scale structure, Astera offers a colour-inverted structure mode, which allows the cosmic web to be seen with unprecedented clarity.
A short demonstrational video of Astera in action can be downloaded here. You will probably have trouble streaming the video (because lots of small moving objects is really bad for video streaming); for the best experience, download the full mp4 and play it locally.