Analysis Tool for Gaia Star Data

StarGateVR is a virtual reality application that lets you and your collaborators meet in a shared virtual space and jointly explore the stars.  The  Gaia Mission has collected precision positional, velocity, and photometric data for over a billion stars. These multi-dimensional Gaia data lend themselves naturally to 3D visualization and exploration via StarGateVR. Use the online Gaia Archive Query Tool to select large samples of stars and to download the resulting multidimensional stellar datasets.  With a quick upload to your Meta Quest headset, you’re ready for untethered immersion into your starfields.

StarGateVR is built on Immersive Science’s underlying 3D proprietary data analysis framework.  This framework lets you select which parameters of a multidimensional dataset you wish to view in 3D, and to quickly switch parameters on any of the three VR spatial axes to further scrutinize data and refine star selection. This accelerates your exploration of the data, leading to new hypothesis generation. 

StarGateVR in Action – Ryan Butler and Joel Kastner (Rochester Institute of Technology) presented initial research results from the application of StarGateVR to the problem of identifying nearby, young stars at the 241st  American Astronomical Society meeting, January 2023.

Two researchers explore dust cloud induced stellar reddening around the M4 globular cluster

There is a great tutorial series, created by Ryan Butler, which shows how to download, install, and operatate StarGateVR.

Investigating Nearby Young Moving Groups Through Virtual Reality

Program Number: 402.04
R. Butler, Rochester Institute of Technology; J. Kastner, RIT Center for Imaging Science; T. Skillman, Immersive Science LLC; A. Varga, Rochester Institute of Technology; G. Diaz, RIT Center for Imaging Science; M. Kuchner, NASA/GSFC.


Here is the supporting video of this work:

Additional Example Research Applications

This poster won the “People’s Choice Prize” at the Rochester Institute of Technology Graduate Education Week Showcase on April 5th, 2023.

Related Information

StarGateVR is inexpensive and runs locally (wireless) on the Quest headset.

StarGateVR is available now for $250

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Acknowledgements:   StarGateVRTM  was developed by Immersive Science LLC, and refined through a collaboration with Rochester Institute of Technology, enabled by support to RIT from NASA’s Astrophysics Data Analysis Program.