OpenSpace – Visualising the Universe

Vision: Browse the Universe – high quality scalable graphics.

It took a while before this could even be started as need the technology.

Spatio-temporal representations. Binary search tree and octrees to divide-and-conquer the data efficiently – allows a choice between high resolution in time or space as required.

Globebrowsing. Using quadtrees to cope with the data. Layer pipelines to cover each layer of potential data – colour, height, etc. There is also layer blending to do. Looking at 3D models, which are absolutely amazing and a new perspective. 

Observational Astronomy. The data is large. E.g. from Gaia mission – 1.2TB. Again octrees. Maximum number of stars per node. Render stars as single pixels and adaptive filtering as otherwise graphics hardware can’t manage it. End results are still stunning.

Demos done of these use cases using OpenSpace live. Slightly shaky video will be uploaded later. Note that all data is from real, gathered data, not CGI.

Simple Graphics Cluster Toolkit

Clustered and distributed rendering.

Can share geographically.

Lua scripting used.


  • No black hole data at present as data not currently available.
  • Data formats? There are a number that are supported, but not all.