VIRUP : The Virtual Reality Universe Project

Science communication is key for sharing research discoveries to a wide audience. The goal of this project is to provide the most modern dynamical view of our Universe through one of the most modern communication techniques : Virtual Reality (VR).

For this purpose, we are developing a new multi-platform VR environment called VIRUP which allows users to travel through space and time, ranging from the solar system and the outer confines of the Universe, to the nearby stars, the Milky Way disk and the Local Group.

Journeys in this VR environment help to understand the hierarchical organization of our universe at different scales as well as developing intuitions for astrophysical processes.

VIRUP is specifically designed to display outputs of cosmological simulations with up to several billion particles, while ensuring a high frame rate per second, essential for a comfortable VR experience.

In addition to standard VR systems, VIRUP is also compatible with specific immersion systems like the ones provided by the Experimental Museology Laboratory (EM+):  the panorama, the half-cave or the dome.

VIRUP is a C++/OpenGL/Qt flexible Free Software built on top of a custom-designed graphics engine. The code can be downloaded directly from gitlab.

Currently implemented features:
  • Objects:
    • Solar system
    • Exoplanet systems
    • Milky Way, Andromeda and M32 model
    • Local Group dwarf galaxies
    • Cosmological structures
  • Controls:
    • hand tracking system
    • a complete scripting system relying on a python wrapper

VIRUP is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) through an AGORA grant.

Archaeology of Light

The short movie Archaeology of Light can be found here. It was made using VIRUP. The article about the movie can be found here.