The new interactive map of the Universe presents the entire known cosmos in stunning detail and with the highest accuracy.
Astronomers have created a map that shows the positions and actual colors of 200,000 galaxies using two decades of data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The interactive map can be downloaded for free from mapoftheuniverse.net, allowing the public to access information that was previously only available to scientists.
“As a child, I was very inspired by astronomical images, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it’s time to create a new type of imagery to inspire people,” Brice Menard, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. and co-author of the map, the statement said. “Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries.”
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(Image credit: B. Menard and N. Shtarkman)
Despite these efforts, no one has bothered to create a beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible map for the general public.
“Our goal is to show everyone what the universe really looks like,” Menard said.
The detailed map was made possible by the groundbreaking Sloan Digital Sky Survey, one of the most influential surveys in the history of astronomy. The study is an ambitious attempt to capture a huge portion of the night sky using the 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Every night for eight years, the telescope aimed its 120-megapixel camera at 1.5 square degrees of the sky at a time – about eight times the area of the full moon – in several different locations to capture a wide vista of the sky. Universe.
Menard and former Johns Hopkins student Nikita Shtarkman used the data to recreate a portion of the universe containing 200,000 galaxies. Each point on the map is a galaxy with billions of stars and planets. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one such dot at the very bottom of the map.
let there be light
One notable aspect of this cosmic map is the vibrant colors, partly created by the expansion of the universe. As the universe expands, the wavelengths of light reaching Earth stretch out into the redder regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The further away the light source, the stronger this redshift.
At the very top of the map is the first light of the universe, emitted about 13.7 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded and cooled enough to allow electrons to form atoms with protons. The dwindling number of free electrons meant that photons—single packets of light that act like particles and waves—suddenly stopped bouncing around indefinitely and instead could travel freely. In an instant, the universe actually turned from opaque to transparent.
At the opposite end of the interactive map is the Milky Way, including the Solar System and the Earth as they exist today.
“On this map, we are just a speck at the very bottom, just one pixel,” Menard said. “And when I say ‘we’, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way, which has billions of stars and planets.”
Menard hopes that the interactive map will not only show the universe in all its beauty, but also demonstrate the impressive scale of the universe.
“We’re used to seeing astronomical images showing one galaxy here, one galaxy there, or perhaps a group of galaxies,” he said. “But what this map shows is a completely different scale. From this point below, we can map galaxies throughout the universe, and that says something about the power of science.”
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