A new map of the universe shows for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and stunning beauty.
Created by astronomers at Johns Hopkins University using data collected over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists.
The interactive map, which displays the actual position and true colors of 200,000 galaxies, is available online and can also be downloaded for free.
“Growing up I was very inspired by astronomical photos, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it’s our time to create a new type of photo to inspire people,” says mapmaker Brice Menard, a professor at Johns Hopkins .
“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries. But no one took the time to create a map that is beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to people who aren’t scientists. The goal here is to show everyone what the universe really looks like.”
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering effort to capture the night sky through a telescope in New Mexico. For years, night after night, the telescope focused on slightly different locations to capture this unusually wide perspective.
The map, which Ménard put together with the help of Nikita Shtarkman, a former Johns Hopkins computer science student, visualizes part of the universe, or about 200,000 galaxies — every dot on the map is a galaxy, and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. The Milky Way is just one of these dots at the very bottom of the map.
The expansion of the universe helps to make this map even more colorful. The farther an object, the redder it appears. The top of the map reveals the first burst of radiation emitted shortly after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.
“On this map, we’re just a speck at the very bottom, just one pixel. And when I say we, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way with billions of stars and planets,” says Ménard. “We’re used to seeing astronomical images of one galaxy here, one galaxy there, or maybe a group of galaxies. But what this map shows is a very, very different scale.”
Menard hopes that people will experience both the map’s undeniable beauty and its awe-inspiring scale.
“From this dot at the bottom,” he says, “we can map galaxies all over the universe, and that says something about the power of science.”
Offered by Johns Hopkins University
Quote: Browse the universe with a new interactive map (2022, November 17) Retrieved November 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-scroll-universe-interactive.html
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