The Tangible Universe

This is a virtual reality experience for laymen and astronomers that visualizes X-ray data of astronomical objects from the ESA satellite XMM-Newton. Data of over 1,000 astronomical X-ray sources generate unique data objects. The sizes, colors or haptic feedback of each individual object represent observational parameters such as source brightness, class, or energy. An observer can move freely and explore our galaxy. Also you can feel and interact with each object to study its radiation and listen to an explanation of its nature. A special feature is the ability to sort the objects based on their parameters which allows for discovering underlying structures of the data set. If you want to test the VR environment, please check out my website ESA XMM-Newton Mission: ESA GAIA Mission: X-ray data set:

Published by

Annika Kreikenbolm

The universe is an amazing playground. Thanks to physics we are able to explore this wonderful world and discover phenomena which lie beyond our own perception. I have always been fascinated by the concept of spacetime and the evolution of the universe. Hence, I studied physics and graduated as PhD in astronomy in 2019. However, my fascination for astronomy has always been accompanied by an interest in art and philosophy. I think visualization is a big part of science. In fact, besides data analysis it was one of my favorite exercises in science to turn complex or abstract concepts into an image.
I became interested in science communication through visualization and studied communication design during my PhD and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2020.
I think both the general public as well as scientist benefit from interactive (data) visualizations. Therefore I am specializing in creating interactive virtual environments in which abstract world become real and interactable, ready to be explore by both researchers and laymen.

Currently, I work as both astronomer and information designer at the physics institute of the University of Wuerzburg in the department of teaching.

This artwork is copyright © Annika Kreikenbolm. All rights reserved.