Astronomers at Johns Hopkins University have created a new interactive map that lets you scroll through the universe

Scroll the UNIVERSE: an incredible interactive map lets you explore 200,000 galaxies

Space fans no longer need to rely on science fiction or wait for images transmitted by the James Webb Space Telescope to explore the deepest reaches of the universe.

Astronomers at Johns Hopkins University have created a new interactive map that lets you scroll through the universe.

Using data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map lets the public discover parts of the universe that were previously only accessible to scientists.

The map, which is free to view and download, depicts the true position and true colors of 200,000 galaxies, each containing billions of stars and planets.

Astronomers at Johns Hopkins University have created a new interactive map that lets you scroll through the universe

The map, which is free to view and download, depicts the true position and true colors of 200,000 galaxies, each containing billions of stars and planets.

The map, which is free to view and download, depicts the true position and true colors of 200,000 galaxies, each containing billions of stars and planets.

What does the map show?

Each point on the map represents a galaxy with its apparent colors.

Less than a billion years ago: The initial section of the universe, extending outward from the Milky Way, represents thousands of spiral galaxies, represented by blue dots.

1.6 billion years ago: We see elliptical galaxies which are yellowish and much brighter than spiral galaxies.

4.5 billion years ago: We can see “elliptical red-shifted galaxies,” which appear redder as photons stretch out as the universe expands.

6.2 billion years ago: Galaxies are getting harder to see. However, we can still spot quasars, which are massive black holes at the center of some galaxies.

10 billion years ago: Blue quasars are becoming more sparse, as “red-shifted quasars” now appear.

A little further on, we encounter an epoch during which the Universe is filled with hydrogen gas which prevents the propagation of visible light that we could observe today. This era is called the “Dark Ages”.

Beyond this vast void we see a bright blue, yellow border, which represents the edge of the observable universe.

Source: mapoftheuniverse.net

The map’s creator, Brice Ménard, a professor at Johns Hopkins, said: “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.

“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries.

“But nobody took the time to create a map that was beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to people who weren’t scientists.” Our goal here is to show everyone what the universe is really like.

For this impressive project, researchers collected data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a pioneering effort to capture the night sky through a telescope based in New Mexico.

Since its launch in 2000, researchers have gradually captured such a wide perspective of the universe by pointing the telescope at slightly different locations each night.

With the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman, Dr. Ménard was able to visualize a “slice” of the universe.

This “slice” contains 200,000 galaxies, where each dot represents a galaxy, and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets.

Our own Milky Way is only a small dot on the vast map and is placed at the very bottom.

Meanwhile, the top of the map represents the edge of the observable universe.

The colors on the map change as you scroll up from the Milky Way.

The initial section of the universe, extending outward from the Milky Way, represents thousands of spiral galaxies, represented by blue dots.

Higher up on the map, elliptical galaxies from 1.6 billion years ago can be seen, which are yellowish and much brighter than spiral galaxies.

As we go back to 4.5 billion years ago, we can see “elliptical red-shifted galaxies”, which appear redder as photons stretch as the universe expands.

An illustration of the Milky Way, which sits at the bottom of the map, and contains around 100 billion stars

An illustration of the Milky Way, which sits at the bottom of the map, and contains around 100 billion stars

The team explained: “This is the case for elliptical galaxies. At these distances, they appear red to us. As we no longer detect the fainter spiral galaxies, the filamentary structure is less visible.

At around 6.2 billion years ago, galaxies become harder to see. However, we can still spot quasars, which are much brighter and bluer.

On the map, the vast array of red dots is gradually replaced by an ocean of blue dots representing quasars, which are massive black holes at the center of some galaxies.

The team added: ‘As they accumulate surrounding gas and stars, they become extremely bright and can be seen throughout the Universe. Their light is bluish.

After 10 billion years, blue quasars become sparser on the map, as “red-shifted quasars” now appear.

‘At these distances, the expansion of the Universe is so great that the blue photons from quasars stretch out and appear redder,’ explain the researchers.

“A little further on, we encounter a time when the Universe is filled with hydrogen gas which prevents the propagation of visible light that we could observe today. This time is called “the dark ages”.’

This is an actual photograph of the first flash of light emitted shortly after the big bang, 13.7 billion years ago, captured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

This is an actual photograph of the first flash of light emitted shortly after the big bang, 13.7 billion years ago, captured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

This mysterious period of the universe dates back approximately 400,000 years after the Big Bang and spans hundreds of millions of years.

Beyond this vast void we see a bright blue, yellow border, which represents the edge of the observable universe.

The team said: “This is an actual photograph of the first flash of light emitted shortly after the big bang, 13.7 billion years ago.”

“This light has been stretched by the expansion of the Universe and reaches us in the form of radio waves. This is the edge of the observable universe.

Dr Ménard continued: “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.

“We are 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.

He hopes people will experience both the undeniable beauty of the map and its awe-inspiring expanse.

He concluded: “From this point down we are able to map galaxies across the entire universe, and that says a lot about the power of science.”

WHAT IS A QUASAR?

“Quasar” is short for quasi-stellar radio source and describes the bright centers of galaxies.

All galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their heart.

When the influx of gas and dust into this black hole reaches a certain level, the event can cause a “quasar” to form – an extremely bright region as material swirls around the black hole.

They are typically 3,260 light-years in diameter.

These regions emit huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation in their jets and can be a trillion times brighter than the sun.

But they only last 10 to 100 million years on average, making them relatively difficult to spot in galaxies that are billions of years old.

The rapidly spinning disc spits out jets of particles moving outward at speeds near the speed of light.

These energy “engines” are brilliant transmitters of light and radio waves.

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