Stellar Playground


Experience and explore stellar life cycles, gravitational/orbital mechanics, and the evolution of life by dragging and dropping stars and other exotic celestial objects. Through exploration and play, visitors can combine and create massive stars and observe the process of stellar evolution by creating white dwarfs, neutron stars, and even black holes. The collaborative touchscreen supports 80 simultaneous touches, encouraging group interactions.

Stellar Playground Video


Educational Points

  • Gravity, Inertia, and Orbits: Simulated gravity lets users observe that stars both pull and are pulled on by other stars. Orbital dynamics of all bodies added to the open field are instantly observable.
  • Stellar Evolution: Larger mass stars burn hotter and faster, contributing to both their color and lifespan. Users can observe the color, temperature and lifespan of the star in real time, including changes as objects combine and change.

Educational Points

  • Stellar Birth/Death events: By creating different stellar situations, users can cause and observe the various death events of stars, such as planetary nebula from low mass stars or supernovae from more massive stars. These events can produce new bodies – white dwarfs, pulsars, and black holes. And planetary nebula can condense, forming into new protostars and planets.
  • Planet habitability: Planets placed at certain distance (contingent upon mass) from a star are in the habitable zone, where the planet can support liquid water. If the planet stays in this zone for enough time, simple life can develop. Over time, simple life becomes complex life, possibly generating a Farming, Industrial, Nuclear and finally Space Age civilization where it will spawn space ships to colonize the Universe!

User Interaction

Users interact via touching the screen (the Ideum Multitouch table supports up to 80 simultaneous touches) to drag and drop celestial bodies from the palettes located at each corner of the screen. They can also manipulate bodies in the open field.


Picking up a body by touching it allows users to place it wherever they want on the screen, it also allows users to select two additional modifiers for the body.
  • Lock: Body is locked into its position, ignoring all gravity sources
  • Orbit: Sets the initial velocity to orbit its nearest larger mass star
  • Lock + Orbit: Body enters orbit and ignores other gravity sources

Dropping a body by releasing touch will drop the body into the simulation, if the User is sliding their finger while releasing, the motion will contribute to the body’s initial velocity.


User Experience

Stellar Playground simulates the gravitational pull of objects on each other and themselves. Each celestial body is a gravity simulated object moving about the game view.

Palettes allow users to drop in one of four generic bodies.
  • 1 solar mass star (the Sun)
  • 0.1 solar mass star (Red Dwarf)
  • 100 Earth mass Gas Giant
  • 1 Earth mass Planet

Exploration and play occur as users not only drop generic bodies into the game, but also as those bodies orbit, collide, combine, and age.

Additional body types can be generated by:

Combining multiple bodies to produce:
  • White Stars
  • Blue stars
  • Giants
  • Super Giants
  • Mega Giants
Allowing bodies to age and die in various solar mass dependent scenarios producing:
  • White Dwarfs
  • Pulsars
  • Magnetars
  • Black holes

Hold Time Data

Stellar Playground is far and above our most successful exhibit in our facility. Our aggregate average hold-time for all non-digital interactives in our museum rates at 2 minutes 12 seconds. Our leading digital interactives command much higher hold times averaging from 4-6 minutes. Stellar Playground rates in a rank of its own with an astonishing 9 minute hold time average. Some groups stay greater than an hour in many cases. The Ideum platform’s large interactive area allows multiple groups to simultaneously enjoy the exhibit for as long as desired. Significant hold times exist across all age ranges and demographics, from pre-K all the way to veteran astronomers and physicists.

Software Pricing

$10,000

Small Facility Pricing applies 50% reduction

Volume pricing also applies

Pricing Sheet

Hardware Provided

  • Keylook License Dongle

Recommended Hardware

  • We strongly recommend the Ideum Multitouch table - it is simple to set up, extremely durable, virtually turn key and supports upto 80 touches.
  • For non Ideum Multitouch products, we highly recommend a 4k display that allows more than 20 touches.

Required Computer Specs

  • Core i5 Quad Core (or better).
  • Motherboard that supports CPU socket.
  • Power Supply: 500 Watt (or better).
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 960 (or better).
  • RAM: 8 GB (or greater).
  • HDD/SSD: 60+ GB.
  • OS: Windows 10.