‘Nova’ Black Hole App Hits iPad

Black holes are a terrifying subject, but PBS and the WGBH Boston-produced science series Nova aim to make the subject a little lighter, with the release of a new gaming app for the iPad.

NOVA Black Holes is hosted by astrophysicist Janna Levin and puts the user 4 billion years in the future, where our Milky Way galaxy has begun to collide with neighboring Andromeda, creating a new star. Players are charged with navigating 50 levels where they set the speed and trajectory of the new star, avoiding black holes along the way.

The game looks to make subjects like orbital dynamics, gravitational waves and black hole detection less dense, with reward badges and videos about how stars become black holes. The game also serves as a precursor to a two-hour Nova special on black holes, hosted by Levin, scheduled for a 2017 debut on PBS. The special will stream on 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, in a statement. “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 app is the second one from Nova, following the March 2012 release of Nova Elements, which has been downloaded 2.4 million times.