New map of the universe shows the extent of the entire cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and stunning beauty

Brice Menard and Nikita Shtarkman

Brice Ménard (left) and Nikita Shtarkman examine the map of the observable universe. Credits: Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University

The map charts a wide expanse of the universe, from the[{” attribute=””>Milky Way to ‘the edge of what can be seen.’

A new map of the universe displays the span of the entire known cosmos for the first time with pinpoint

Compiled from data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map was created by astronomers from Johns Hopkins University. It allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists.

The interactive map depicts the actual position and real colors of 200,000 galaxies. It is available online, where it can also be downloaded for free.


A new map of the universe shows for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and stunning beauty. Credit: Johns Hopkins University

“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’s beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to people who aren’t scientists. Our 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 visualizes part of the universe, or about 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 these dots at the very bottom of the map. Ménard compiled the map with the help of Nikita Shtarkman, a former Johns Hopkins computer science student.

Map of the observable universe

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. Credit: Johns Hopkins University

The map is even more colorful due to the expansion of the universe. Because of this, the farther an object is, the redder it appears. The first burst of radiation emitted shortly after the[{” attribute=””>Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago is revealed at the top of the map.

“In this map, we are just a speck at the very bottom, just one pixel. And when I say we, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way which has billions of stars and planets,” Ménard says. “We are used to seeing astronomical pictures showing one galaxy here, one galaxy there or perhaps a group of galaxies. But what this map shows is a very, very different scale.”

Ménard hopes people will experience both the map’s undeniable beauty and its awe-inspiring sweep of scale.

“From this speck at the bottom,” he says, “we are able to map out galaxies across the entire universe, and that says something about the power of science.”

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