New VR simulation lets you explore supermassive black hole

Most realistic views of the direct surroundings of the black hole.

The black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, has been visualized in virtual reality for the first time. The details are described in an article published in the open access journal Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology. Credit: J.Davelaar 2018
The black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, has been visualized in virtual reality for the first time. The details are described in an article published in the open access journal Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology. Credit: J.Davelaar 2018

For the first ever time, scientists have created a virtual reality (VR) simulation of Sagittarius A*- the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The simulation allows helps viewers to better visualize the phenomenon and study the black holes as well.

With the aim of creating a VR simulation of Sagittarius A*, scientists at Radboud University, The Netherlands and Goethe University, Germany come together and used an astrophysical model of Sagittarius A*. Through this model, they were able to capture an image series that then put together to create a 360-degree virtual reality simulation of the black hole.

The simulation can be seen using VR consoles. The most fascinating thing about this simulation is, it created one of the most realistic views of the direct surroundings of the black hole. Moreover, it is expected to help scientists to study the behavior of the black hole.

Jordy Davelaar, a corresponding author, said, “Traveling to a black hole in our lifetime is impossible, so immersive visualizations like this can help us understand more about these systems from where we are.”

“The visualizations that we produced have a great potential for outreach. We used them to introduce children to the phenomenon of black holes, and they really learned something from it. This suggests that immersive virtual reality visualizations are a great tool to show our work to a broader audience, even when it involves very complicated systems like black holes.”

Heino Falcke, Professor at Radboud University adds: “We all have a picture in our head of how black holes supposedly look, but science has progressed and we can now make much more accurate renderings—and these black holes look quite different from what we are used to. These new visualizations are just the start, more to come in the future.”

The study is published in the open access journal Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology.