Stellar Playground

Experience and explore stellar life cycles, gravitational and orbital mechanics, and the advancement of civilizations 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 visitors 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. Visitors can observe the color, temperature and lifespan of the star in real time, including changes as objects combine and change.

Educational Points

  • Stellar Birth and Death events: Visitors can create different stellar situations 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. Planetary nebula can also condense, forming new protostars and planets.
  • Planet habitability: Planets placed at a certain distance from a star are in the habitable zone where the planet can support liquid water. This distance is contingent upon mass. 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

Visitors interact by touching the screen 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. Since the Ideum Multitouch table supports up to 80 simultaneous touches, it allows many users working together (or in opposition) to create a more immersive experience.

Picking up a celestial body by touching it allows visitors to place it anywhere on the screen. It also allows users to select two additional modifiers for the body.
  • Lock: Locks celestial body into its position and ignores all gravity sources.
  • Orbit: Sets the initial velocity to orbit the nearest larger mass star.
  • Lock + Orbit: Celestial body enters orbit and ignores other gravity sources.

Dropping a celestial body by releasing touch will drop the body into the simulation. If the visitor 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 (30 Day Timespan)

Software Pricing


Small Facility Pricing applies 50% reduction

Volume pricing also applies

Pricing Sheet

Hardware Provided

  • Keylok license dongle

Recommended Hardware

  • We strongly recommend the Ideum Multitouch table - it is simple to set up, extremely durable, virtually turn key and supports up to 80 touches.
  • Supports Ideum Pano table (2, 4k Displays).
  • For non Ideum Multitouch products, we highly recommend a 4k display that allows more than 20 touches.

Required Computer Specs

  • Quad Core CPU (or better).
  • Power Supply: 600 Watt (or better).
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti (or better).
  • RAM: 16 GB (or greater).
  • SSD: 120+ GB.
  • OS: Windows 10 or Windows 11.