Astronomical simulators: a journey through the ends of the Universe, at the speed of light

Through interactive maps, various websites allow us to understand how planetary dynamics works, to travel through black holes and visit galaxies.

With the punctuality of an atomic clock, astronomical simulators recreate, at different scales, the movements of the closest solar systems, the gravitational field of black holes, galaxies with their accumulation of gas and dust, even a journey through the universe through The speed of light. Some are downloaded to the computer and some are run from the page.

To understand how planetary dynamics works, some display an interactive three-dimensional map, where the orbital plane of the celestial bodies is reproduced. Others, considered more advanced, offer cosmological information on the evolution of the universe. Although they are free, some have paid add-ons.

With a catalog made up of 100 thousand stars, planets with their moons, asteroids, comets and even artificial satellites, Celestia (https://celestia.es) is the most educational option for discovering the astral gear. Even, has an eclipse finder and allows you to recreate upcoming events.

To simulate the position and displacement of the parts of the Solar System in real time, On any scale of time and space, it applies the Variations of Planetary Orbit (VSOP), a mathematical model that predicts long-term changes in the positions of the stars.

To accentuate the realism, when framing a planet, its radius, the distance to the Sun, the length of the day, the average temperature and its atmosphere are detailed. There are 20GB in extensions format, like the exoplanets already cataloged or new textures in high definition of the Solar System.

Midway between reality and invention, SpaceEngine – developed by Russian astronomer Vladimir Romanyuk – is a simulation with playful touches, containing true astronomical catalogs and procedural generation. This guarantees unlimited exploration and that there are no repetitions in the landscapes.

The travel catalog consists of 10,000 galaxies, 130,000 stars, and 1,800 extrasolar worlds. All the sidereal bodies respect the classification provided by the Hipparcos satellite.

The millions of procedural objects are built with the proportions of said catalog and with realistic generation algorithms. At a detailed level, it can be seen from the light footprint of a racing car to the galactic clusters.

With the ships available, the pilots move through space in any direction or speed (limited to 100 megaparsecs per second) and can move forward or backward on the timescale. The latest version is paid, but the previous ones can be tried for free.

In the TNG50 project (www.tng-project.org), scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Astrophysics and Astronomy in Germany achieved the More accurate large-scale simulation of the formation of the first galaxies after the Big Bang.

The work emulated the evolution of 20 billion particles that represent dark matter, stars, cosmic gas, magnetic fields and supermassive black holes, over a period of 13.8 billion years.

The product, reserved for experts, is the simulation of a universe 230 million light years on a side, with the ability to discern events with a time resolution of one million years.

This advance required the contribution of 16,000 cores from the Hazel Hen supercomputer, over 24 hours, over an entire year. To access technical information, you must register.

To follow the path of the Martian robots, NASA partnered with Google to model Access Mars (https://accessmars.withgoogle.com). The idea of ​​the site is to visit 360 degree eroded plateaus and hills such as Pahrump Hills, Marias Pass, and Murray Buttes.

The records used to make this “virtual tour” come from photos sent by the robotic laboratory Curiosity, which has been studying the Martian surface since 2012.

As a complement, the Mars Exploration Program (https://mars.nasa.gov) provides access to the latest research on the Red Planet, recent discoveries and the technology used in each past and future mission.

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