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The Elite: Dangerous galaxy is based on the real Milky Way and planets will rotate and orbit their stars, thus constantly changing a system's landscape and adding lot of depth. The galaxy is scientifically accurate and includes around a 100 billion star systems (around 400 billion stars considering most systems contain multiple stars). The Elite Universe is modeled on current galactic charts. Planets and moons will rotate and orbit in 1:1 scale real-time, therefore constantly changing a system's environment.


Milky Way galaxy in Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous features an immersive, evolving galaxy with dynamic society, economy and stories, allowing pilots to join each other and together change the story of the Milky Way.

Terrestrial planet brown dwarf

Terrestrial planet and a brown dwarf.

The vast, scientifically accurate 1:1 scale of the seamless Milky Way galaxy is created using a mix of procedural generation and artist direction.

There are several sentient species in the Milky Way galaxy. The most notable are Humans, Thargoids and Guardians. More species are yet to be discovered.

Milky Way Galaxy Edit

Elite Dangerous players are the first people to experience interstellar travel. The sky is not a painted backdrop, you can travel to each and every star you see. The constellations change with parallax as you explore the galaxy, and the night sky viewed from Earth is, of course, accurate.[1]

We achieved this by starting with as much information as we could gather about the 160,000 known star systems from our galaxy.

Planet lights ring system

Planet with city lights and a ring system.

We know the temperature, size and metallicity (the periodic elements that make up the star's composition) of those stars. And we also know the mass distribution of the Milky Way.

Our unique Stellar Forge system 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 galaxy.

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.

Viper Ring system

Viper in a ring system.

This delivers both an incredibly accurate and beautiful cosmic ballet, with all the motions of the celestial bodies correct, and is also the foundation for the different economies of each system in-game.

The System Map displays a system's layout and information. Any discovered celestial and system information is documented on the System Map.

Planets Edit

For Planetary Landings we've extended the simulation still further. We take into account the factors that govern the formation of planets, from the basic chemical composition, size, neighbouring moons and tectonic activity.

Terrestrial planet and a Cobra

Terrestrial planet and a Cobra

We simulate the compression of tectonic plates, so we can see where they'd move together and move apart. That creates where ridges are formed, mountains, or canyons and trenches.

We simulate impact craters, volcanism and ageing. The minerals and elements making up the planet determine its appearance and colors.

You can seamlessly approach and land anywhere on a 1:1 scale planet and experience every square meter of terrain first-hand, either flying your ship close to the mountains and in the canyons, or landing and driving your SRV.

Gas Giant SRV ASP

Gas Giant SRV and Asp

And again the simulation feeds directly into gameplay, with resources to be collected and synthesized, huge surface starports to trade in, shipwrecks to explore and fortified settlements to be defeated.  

Nebula Edit

People have found 141 nebula in the Milky Way galaxy and 32 external galaxies. They are all present in-game. The distances range from 380 lightyears from Sol to the Pleiades Nebula and up to 27,900 light years to the G2 dustcloud.  

Population Edit

The galaxy's total NPC system population is aproximately 6,632,313,733,791 NPCs on January 12, 3303. Executive Producer Michael Brookes confirmed the total number.[2]

The number is based on data, so it depends on when a system was last updated. The number was derived from downloaded the data from Here are the bash commands that jasch used.


#!/bin/env bash
cat systems_populated.jsonl | sed "s/.*\"population\"\://g;s/\,\".*//g" > popnum
awk '{ sum += $1 } END { print sum }' popnums

Credits: Olivia Vespera - original idea, got jasch to calc the number - providing the data community - filling eddb with data

Online Edit

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. This includes the galaxy itself as well as transient information like economies. The aim here is that a player's actions will influence the development of the galaxy, without necessarily having to play multiplayer.

Nebula and SRV

Nebula and SRV.

The other important aspect for the developers is that they can seed the galaxy with events, often these events will be triggered by player actions. With a living breathing galaxy players can discover new and interesting things long after they have started playing.

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

Elite Dangerous Powerplay Bubble

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

The Bubble is a sphere of about 150 light years around Sol with 19 thousand inhabited systems where powers compete for influence, resources, territory and control. The territory volume is about 13.8 million cubic light years. It's also known as the Core Worlds.

The server transparently creates free roaming sessions (instances) when meeting other players and NPCs within that galaxy based on a perception bubble around you, that is defined by your scanner/visual range. That means that those instances are not a fixed location in space as in 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.

Gas Giant Ring system SRV

Gas giant with a ring system and SRV.

Because the game features very high speed twitch combat and very detailed damage models, this is the most reliable way to do it, also keep in mind there can be many sessions within a star system and those sessions can dynamically move around, also because this game uses a 1:1 scale Milky Way galaxy, sessions will typically be spread out much farther away (although most of the action will be within the core systems) and it wouldn't be immersion breaking as opposed to a space game in a smaller area.

Lore Edit

The official Elite: Dangerous Role Playing Game has in-depth lore about the universe of Elite: Dangerous. 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.

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.[3]

Visible Galaxies Edit

A total of 32 galaxies have been 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.[4]

External Galaxies Below Andromeda

Visible Galaxies below Andromeda.

Here's a table, to make it easier.

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 taken from wikipedia. A few I had to find some papers or astronomy sites to get some of them from ***Taken from Wikipedia - check source there ****Physically paired galaxies 1Only one (or neither) of these is correct 2Only one (or neither) of these is correct 3Only one (or neither) of these is correct

References Edit

  1. Elite Dangerous: Our Galaxy
  2. (Quite) Accurate Total NPC Population Numbers! - Confirmed by Michael Brookes. 
  4. List and Sky Charts of other Visible Galaxies in Elite


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