Immersive Environment for Cosmological Big Data

This research aims to develop a new immersive environment in order to support novel human interaction with billions of objects, enabling us to engage with the world of Big Data.

Big Data is indisputably increasing in all fields of research. In astrophysics, with the upcoming gigantic observatories such as the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), the Vera Rubin Observatory (formerly LSST), or the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), scientists will have to deal with Exa-Byte levels of data! In parallel to the Universe observations, state-of-the-art cosmological numerical simulations have reached a complexity today whereby several billion mass elements can be included with the complex astrophysics and up to several trillions when only Gravity is included.

Chief among the different challenges of Big Data, is its visualisation. While machine learning and neural networks can assist scientists in data exploration, visualisation of data remains vital for researchers to undertake accurate analysis and interpretation. Combining the skills of LASTRO in cosmological observations and simulations, the immersive interactive visualisation experience of eM+, and the IIG’s expertise in embodied interactions, this project aims to develop new methods that will enable the exploration of gigantic surveys and simulations via virtual reality environments. Exploring means not only traveling through positions but also through the velocity fields, as well as accessing the complete physical contents of simulations. The project will also  enable users to visualise stars and galaxies, to access their fascinating physical properties.

Funded by the Interdisciplinary Seed Fund.

Principal Investigator:
Jean-Paul Kneib & Yves Revaz (Laboratory of Astrophysics, LASTRO)
Sarah Kenderdine (Laboratory for Experimental Museology, eM+)
Ronan Boulic (Immersive Interaction Research Group, IIG)