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Today, the PBS science series NOVA, a production of WGBH Boston, announced the launch of the NOVA Black Holes App for iPad. The app—available for free from iTunes—
challenges players to hurl stars through the universe at celestial targets in a quest to earn a star that’s big and bright enough to go supernova and collapse into a black hole.

Hosted by astrophysicist Janna Levin, the game takes players 4 billion years into the future, at a time when our own Milky Way galaxy is colliding with the Andromeda galaxy. Given a star born out of this cosmic storm, the player’s mission is to set the speed and trajectory of this star to hit its target. The game grows more complicated through more than 50 levels, as the user must navigate increasingly challenging sets of orbital patterns while meeting new cosmic objects—including small but dense neutron stars, massive blue supergiant stars, white dwarf stars, and both stellar and supermassive black holes. The player can use gravitational assists from these and other objects to slingshot around the galaxy, but must detect and avoid invisible black holes that will shred the player’s star if it gets too close.

The NOVA Black Hole App allows players to:

— Learn about orbital dynamics and gravity, the science behind black hole detection, gravitational waves, and more

— Play over 50 game levels powered by a real physics engine

— Earn 12 game badges like the “Black Hole Breakfast” badge, which is awarded once the player’s star gets devoured by a black hole ten times during the game

— Watch videos about what happens to the core of a star as it ages and eventually becomes a black hole

A special two-hour NOVA film hosted by Janna Levin about Black Holes is slated to air on PBS in 2017. At that time, the NOVA Black Holes App will be updated so users can stream the documentary from the app.
“With the launch of the Black Holes App, we continue to offer new and exciting ways for audiences to experience NOVA content through a variety of digital platforms,” said Paula S. Apsell, NOVA Senior Executive Producer and Director of the WGBH Science Unit. “We’re thrilled to give players the opportunity to explore astrophysics through this fun, interactive game, and hope it inspires them to expand their interest in astronomy and STEM subjects overall.”

The Black Holes App is the second app to be created by NOVA, joining the highly successful NOVA Elements App released in March 2012. Downloaded 2.4 million times since its launch, the Elements App lets users explore an interactive periodic table, build the elements, play a game hosted by technology columnist David Pogue, and watch the two-hour NOVA film, Hunting the Elements.

Watch the trailer below:

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