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Elite-Dangerous-Milky-Way-Galaxy

Milky Way galaxy in Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous has a 1:1 scale simulation of the Milky Way galaxy based on real-life scientific principles, scientific data and theories. It includes around 400 billion star systems, modeled on actual galactic charts. Planets and moons rotate and orbit with 1:1 scale in real-time, thus constantly changing a system's environment. The galaxy is divided into 42 Galactic Regions.

Overview

Elite Dangerous features an immersive, evolving galaxy with dynamic star systems, economies, governments, and territory control via Powerplay. Commanders can influence the overarching narrative via community goals, squadrons, and supporting a Power to reshape star systems, regions and the galaxy. These actions are processed via the background simulation.

Terrestrial planet brown dwarf

Terrestrial planet and a brown dwarf

Milky Way

Milky-Way-Panorama-1500ly-Above-Galactic-Plane

Milky Way Panorama 1500ly above galactic plane

Elite Dangerous allows players to travel to almost every visible star from normal space. The constellations change with parallax as you explore the galaxy, and the night sky viewed from Earth is, of course, accurate.[5] Some star systems and regions require permits to access. Certain star system clusters are permit locked for future content.

Planet lights ring system

Planet with city lights and a ring system.

During development Frontier gathered as much information as they could about the 160,000 known star systems of our galaxy.[5] We know the temperature, size and metallicity (the periodic elements that make up the star's composition) of those stars. We also know the mass distribution of the Milky Way.[5] The uniquely custom built, Stellar Forge takes that information, rolls time backwards toward the Big Bang, and simulates from there the composition of hundreds of thousands of celestial bodies using the first principles that astrophysicists believe govern our universe. It uses the nebula hypothesis to simulate the composition and orbit of all the undiscovered stars, exoplanets, moons and black holes in our Milky Way.[5] We end up with a huge amount of technical information about each star and its planets, moons and asteroid fields, such as temperature, chemical composition and orbit.[5]

This delivers both an incredibly accurate and beautiful cosmic ballet, with correct motions of the celestial bodies, and it's the foundation for the various economies of each star system in ED.[5]

Newly discovered and notable star systems have been added such as Trappist-1 in 2017.[6] Prior to it's discovery on 22 February 2017, the Stellar Forge coincidentally generated a system with similar characteristics in nearly the same location: Core Sys Sector XU-P A5-0. Frontier updated this system and renamed it Trappist-1 with ED: Horizons update 2.3.

Galaxy Map

ED Galaxy Map 2015

Galaxy Map

The Galaxy Map is used to navigate the Milky Way. The System Map displays a system's layout and important details. Any discovered celestial and system information is documented on the System Map.

ED uses a Cartesian variant of the Galactic coordinate system. It is visible in the GalMap grid and from exploration journal files. The origin point is Sol at 0 / 0 / 0. The axes point to the Galactic East ("right", y-axis), Galactic North ("up", towards the constellation of Coma / ~31 Comae Berenices, z-axis), and Galactic Center (~Sag A*, x-axis) respectively.

Planets

Terrestrial planet and a Cobra

Earth and a Cobra

Methane Atmosphere ED 1

Methane atmosphere

In 2015, the Planetary Landings update extended the original galactic simulation from outer space to a 1:1 planetary scale. Frontier's Stellar Forge takes into account the factors that govern the formation of planets, from the basic chemical composition, size, neighbouring moons and tectonic activity.[5] ED: Odyssey added the On Foot first person scale and atmospheric landing on planetary objects with tenuous atmospheres in 2021.

Atmospheres of planetary objects have different colours based on their primary composition, Raleigh scattering and Mie scattering. Raleigh scattering for light refraction based on the star light's wavelength and planet atmosphere density. Mie scattering for light absorption based on atmosphere elements and composition. This simulates a huge variety of atmospheric visuals.[4]

The planets and planetary ring systems rotate in real time. The moons (planetary satellites) orbit planets. The planets and gas giants generally orbit a star in the center of a system. Sometimes 2 planets orbit each other. Some systems have binary stars, a neutron star or a black hole.

The Stellar Forge simulates the compression of tectonic plates, so that Frontier's developers can see where they'd move together and move apart. That creates areas where ridges are formed, mountains, canyons or trenches.[5]

The Stellar Forge also simulates impact craters, volcanism and ageing. The minerals and elements making up a planet determine its appearance and colors.[5]

You can seamlessly approach and land anywhere on a 1:1 scale planet to explore every square meter of terrain first-hand. You can either fly your ship close to the mountains and in the canyons, or land and drive the SRV.[5]

The simulation feeds directly into the gameplay such as resources collect and synthesize, surface ports for trade, Points of Interest to explore and fortified settlements to defend or defeat.[5]

Nebulae

Veil-West-Nebula-and-Type-9

Veil Nebula West and a Type-9

There are 141 documented nebulae in the Milky Way and 32 external galaxies. These are all present in-game. The distances range from 380 light years from Sol to the Pleiades Nebula or up to 27,900 light years to the G2 dust cloud.

Core Systems

Elite Dangerous Powerplay Bubble

"The Bubble" is where powers compete for influence, resources, territory and control.

The Core Systems (aka The Bubble), is a sphere of about 150 light years around Sol where powers compete for influence, resources, territory and control. The territory volume is about 13.8 million cubic light years, and encompasses over 20,000 inhabited systems with over 66,000 stationsstarports and outposts.

Major hubs of human expansion outside the Core Systems are the Pleiades Nebula and Colonia Region. Occasional Asteroid Bases and settlements may be found in deep space.

Population

As of December 18, 3305, the galaxy's total human population (based on system population data) is 6,632,509,648,309 (6.6 trillion people). The galaxy's total commodities market stock in tonnes is 112,693,047,481.[7][8]

Hard Science

SLF-Taipan-and-Planetary-Ring

Taipan in a Planetary Ring

Elite Dangerous is groundbreaking in that the galaxy's structure is based on hard science. Numerous star surveys were used to plot real stars in the night sky and to help compose a consist model of the Milky Way.

During a keynote presentation at Nordic Game 2014 David Braben said, "We've taken a lot of hard science to compose the galaxy so everybody that's in all sorts of star surveys we've merged with fixed errors in the star surveys and so in one place, possibly for the first time we've got a very consistent model of the galaxy and it's rich enough that we can plot the night sky. But when we plotted the night sky as viewed from Earth it's really bright and it actually doesn't look right. So what we've then done is we've tuned the dust so that it actually matches the night sky when viewed from Earth. What's interesting is there is way more dust than most scientific theories say there should be. But we can tell by just wandering outside on a clear day and looking know that's what it should be so we are actually looking at that from sort of first principles. There really is a lot of dust, but the great thing from a game point of view is it actually makes the night sky very interesting. So you don't need to fly very far in game terms from Earth for the night sky to change quite dramatically. So for those who've played it we've actually put in most of the earth centric constellations in the sky, but when you travel a little away they all distort, but more important we are bang in the middle of this dust. So your night sky is quite dark, but if you go say a hundred light years directly out of the galactic plane it’s a bit like poking up. When you're on a plane taking off from an airport, you get that amazing view when you come out of the clouds looking out of the window and you suddenly see right across. That's what it's like and some of the systems, Achenar for example is the center of the Empire and a giant system which is actually out of the galactic plane so you can see across to the galaxy just a little bit it's just wonderful."[3]

Exploration

Main article: Explorer, Exobiologist
Elite-Dangerous-Codex-Galaxy-Regions

Galactic regions

The Codex has a Discoveries section and a galaxy map which consists of 42 regions. Each galactic region has information detailing the stellar bodies, geological/biological entities and civilisation contained there. Within each system are a variety of novelties to discover as an explorer or exobiologist. For example stars, terrestrial planets, species, gas giants, Points of Interest etc.[9]

  • As of March 2, 2018, Commanders discovered 112,863,791 unique star systems, which is only 0.028% of the systems in the galaxy.[10] Over 20,262,978,541 light-years had been traversed via hyperspace since Elite Dangerous was released.[11]
  • As of February 26, 2019, only 0.036% of the galaxy had been explored.[12]
  • As of December 16, 2019, only 0.042% of the galaxy had been explored.[8]
  • As of January 20, 2022, only 0.05% of the galaxy, or exactly 222,083,678 unique star systems, had been explored.[13]
  • As of January 10, 2023, only 0.059% of the galaxy or exactly 236,219,997 unique star systems, had been explored.[14]

Traffic

Elite-Dangerous-Traffic-Report-April-3303

Galactic Traffic Report April 3303

EDSM made traffic report videos which show ship movement and exploration in the galaxy. It's based on data taken from EDSM flight logs. ED-Board made an Elite Dangerous Heatmap timelapse generated from the edsm.net database (systems data submitted by E:D players) to show progress of the Milky Way exploration.

Circumnavigation of the galaxy

Hanekura Shizuka decided to see just how long a circumnavigation of the galaxy would take. He started at the Witch Head Science Center to its finish at Achrende. It went pretty fast. He started at 18:55:00 on May 23, 3304, and finished at 08:11:13 on May 31. Total time to circumnavigate the galaxy was: 7 days, 13 hours, 16 minutes, 13 seconds.[15][16]

Brown dwarf layer

Asp-Explorer-and-Brown-Dwarf-space

Asp Explorer and Brown Dwarf

There is a layer of systems throughout the galaxy with a very high density of brown dwarf stars. The layer is located approximately on the galactic plane. This represents a hazard for explorers to navigate, because there are very few scoopable stars.

Online

The online galaxy of Elite Dangerous is a shared universe maintained by a central server. All of the meta data for the galaxy is shared between players on all platforms. This includes the galaxy itself as well as transient information like economies. A player's actions could influence the development of the galaxy, without necessarily having to play multiplayer.

Alien-Sinuous-Tuber-2

Sinuous Tubers on a planet

The developers can seed the galaxy with events. These events are often triggered by player actions. The living and breathing galaxy lets players discover novel and intriguing content long after they started playing.

The game features a shared persistent galaxy server, where macro effects and events such as economy, society and conflict status are recorded.

Powerplay is an ongoing battle for interstellar conquest and control in the galaxyPowers are powerful individuals and organizations which players can pledge allegiance to help guide their strategy, and take on special objectives to advance shared goals. Player choices and actions have a direct and visible impact on the balance of galactic power.

The server transparently creates free roaming sessions (instances) when players and NPCs meet up within the galaxy based on a perception bubble around you which is defined by your scanner/visual range. Thus those instances are not a fixed location in space as most other MMOs, but they dynamically move around. The effects of those instances are then stored on the central galaxy server and shared by everybody.

Anemones-planetary ring- SRV-Python

SRV Scarab on a planet with anemones

ED features high speed twitch combat and detailed damage models so the aforementioned method is the most reliable way to do it. There can be many sessions within 1 star system. Those sessions can dynamically move around many light years. ED's 1:1 scale Milky Way, means sessions are typically spread out much further. However, the lion's share of player activity is within the Core Systems.

Persistent Data

Every week the servers go offline to allow the Galaxy's persistent data to update:[17]

The update usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes, during this time you cannot login to the Milky Way.

Lore

Coriolis-space-station-Titans-Daughter

Coriolis station

The lore has expanded a lot since ED launched in 2014. Important events are covered by GalNet. The official Elite Dangerous Role Playing Game has in-depth lore about the fictional universe. Here's a summary:

Cheap and faster than light travel has enabled humanity to expand across the stars. They've built colonies, cities, stations and empires. This led to the rise of galactic superpowers: the Federation, Empire and Alliance. The galaxy's vast wealth of minerals, water and life-bearing planets makes them wealthier every day. Such wealth of the major factions attracts powerful people who scheme daily to gain power.[18]

The middle-classes can afford spaceships like cars in the 20th century. This gives them tremendous freedom. Space trade is seldom hampered by politics. Pilots are encouraged to do all kinds of jobs such as supplying stations. Little has changed for those in the bottom of society since the old-Earth's dark ages. The planet-spanning mega corporations employ entire nations and rule unchecked over vast sections of the galaxy. Weapons are readily available and people are inclined to shoot first. The general lawlessness of space, inequality, greed of the galactic elite, navigational hazards and fierce creatures on planets make it a dangerous galaxy.[18]

Visible Galaxies

External Galaxies Below Andromeda

Visible Galaxies below Andromeda

A total of 32 galaxies are identified by CMDR Dr. Kaii (including dwarf and irregular galaxies). The nearest galaxy is the Large Magellanic Cloud at 158,200 light years. The furthest is NGC 6703 at 106 million light years.[19] This table gives an overview of the visible galaxies.

Name Other Designations Type Number of Stars* Direction Distance (ly)**
Large Magellanic Cloud Nubecula Major Irr 20 billion Towards the Magellanic Clouds 158,200
Small Magellanic Cloud Nubecula Minor / NGC 292 Irr 3 billion Towards the Magellanic Clouds 199,000
Ursa Minor Dwarf3 E5 7 million West Up 200,000
Sextans Dwarf Sextans I E4 25 million East Up 290,000
Sculptor Dwarf ESO 351-30 E0 50 million Towards the Magellanic Clouds 290,000
Carina Dwarf E3 35 million Towards the Magellanic Clouds 330,000
Fornax Dwarf E4 130 million Towards the Magellanic Clouds 460,000
Leo II DDO 93 E0 90 million East Up 690,000
Leo I DDO 74 E3 40 million East Up 820,000
NGC 6822 IC 4895 / MCG -2-50-6 / DDO 209 Irr 700 million North Down 1,600,000
IC 10 UGC 192 / MCG 192 / IRAS 177+5900 Irr 160 million Above Andromeda 2,200,000
IC 1613 UGC 668 / MCG 0-3-70 / DDO 8 Irr 2 billion Below Andromeda 2,380,000
Andromeda I KK 8 E0 70 Million Below Andromeda 2,400,000
Andromeda III KK 5 E6 8 Million Below Andromeda 2,440,000
M32 NCG 221 / UGC 452 / MCG 7-2-15 E2 1 billion Below Andromeda 2,490,000
Andromeda M 31 / NGC 224 / UGC 454 / MCG 7-2-16 Sb ***1 trillion Below Andromeda 2,500,000
Cassiopeia 1 KK 19 Irr 6 billion Above Andromeda 2,550,000
NGC 147 & NGC 185**** E5 / E3 1 billion Above Andromeda 2,580,000
Leo A DDO 69 Irr 40 million East Up 2,600,000
Triangulum M 33 / NGC 598 / UGC 1117 / MCG 5-4-69 Sc ***40 billion Below Andromeda 3,000,000
Pegasus Dwarf DDO 216 dIrr 50 million Below Andromeda 3,000,000
WLM Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte / DDO 221 Irr 830 million Directly Down 3,000,000
Aquarius Dwarf DDO 210 Irr 8 million North Down 3,200,000
Sagittarius DIG ESO 594-4 Irr 40 million North Down 3,390,000
Antlia Dwarf PGC 29194 E3 50 million East Up 4,000,000
NGC 3109 ESO 499-36 / MCG -4-24-13 / UGCA 194 Sb 15 billion East Up 4,300,000
Sextans A DDO 75 Irr 570 million East Up 4,310,000
IC 5152 ESO 237-27 / AM 2159-513 / IRAS 21594-5132 Irr 1 billion Towards the Magellanic Clouds 5,800,000
Andromeda IV Irr 600 million Below Andromeda 6,100,000
NGC 404 UGC 718 / MCG 6-3-18 / ZWG 520.20 S0 900 million Below Andromeda 10,000,000
NGC 69462 UGC 11597 / MCG 10-29-6 / ZWG 304.6 SBc 100 billion West Up 22,000,000
NGC 69521 NGC 6951 / UGC 11604 / MCG 11-25-2 SBc 170 billion West Up 74,000,000
IC 15023 UGC 12706 / UGC 12105 / MCG 13-1-2 Sa 7 billion West Up 82,000,000
NGC 59851 UGC 9969 / MCG 10-22-30 / ZWG 297.25 SBb 1 trillion West Up 100,000,000
NGC 67032 UGC 11356 / MCG 8-34-20 / ZWG 255.14 S0 110 billion West Up 106,000,000

*Taken from Space Engine (not reliable, but probably good estimates) **Almost all distances are taken from Wikipedia. A few distances are based on papers or astronomy sites via Wikipedia. Physically paired galaxies1 Only one (or neither) of these is correct2 Only one (or neither) of these is correct3 Only one (or neither) of these is correct.

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References

Elite-Dangerous-Milky-Way-Galaxy

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