A new map of the universe displays for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and stunning beauty.
Created by astronomers at Johns Hopkins University with data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to discover data previously only available to scientists.
The interactive map, which depicts the actual position and actual colors of 200,000 galaxies, is available online, where it can also be downloaded for free.
“Growing up I was very inspired by astronomy images, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it’s time to create a new type of image to inspire people,” says the map maker Brice Ménard, professor at Johns Hopkins.
“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of papers and scientific discoveries. But no one has taken the time to create a beautiful, scientifically accurate map that is accessible to non-scientists. Our goal here is to show everyone what the universe is really like.”
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering effort to capture the night sky through a telescope based in New Mexico. Night after night for years, the telescope aimed at slightly different locations to capture this unusually wide perspective.
The map, which Ménard put together with the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman, visualizes a slice of the universe, roughly 200,000 galaxies – each dot on the map is a galaxy, and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. The Milky Way is just one of those points, the one at the very bottom of the map.
The expansion of the universe helps make this map even more colorful. The further away an object is, the redder it appears. The top of the map reveals the first flash of radiation emitted shortly after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.
“On this map, we are just a dot at the very bottom, just a pixel. And when I say us, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way which has billions of stars and planets,” explains Ménard. “We’re used to seeing astronomical images showing a galaxy here, a galaxy there, or maybe a group of galaxies. But what this map shows is on a very, very different scale.”
Ménard hopes people will experience both the undeniable beauty of the map and its impressive scale.
“From this point down,” he says, “we are able to map galaxies across the entire universe, and that says a lot about the power of science.”
Provided by Johns Hopkins University
Quote: Scroll the universe with a new interactive map (November 17, 2022) Retrieved November 17, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-scroll-universe-interactive.html
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