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ISSUE 24 - October 2018

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Walking Through an Exploded Star: Rendering Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A into Virtual Reality (page 17)
Kimberly Kowal Arcand, Elaine Jiang, Sara Price, Megan Watzke, Tom Sgouros, Peter Edmonds


Data on the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant from NASA and other sources have been rendered into a three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) programme, which is the first of its kind. This data-driven experience of a supernova remnant allows viewers to take a virtual walk inside the leftovers of a massive star that has exploded, select parts of the remnant to engage with and access descriptive texts on what the different materials are. This programme is based on a unique three-dimensional (3D) model of the 340-year old remains of a stellar explosion, made by combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based facilities. A collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Brown University allowed the 3D astronomical data collected on Cassiopeia A to be featured in the VR/AR programme, which is an innovation in digital technologies with public, education and research-based impacts.

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