A new map of the universe shows for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with millimeter precision, showing the true position and true colors of 200,000 galaxies.
Created by astronomers from the Johns Hopkins University with data extracted over two decades by Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists. The map can be followed from herewhere it can also be downloaded for free.
“As a child, I was very inspired by astronomical images, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it is our time to create a new type of image to inspire people”, He says release mapmaker Brice Ménard, 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 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 New Mexico-based telescope. Night after night for years, the telescope was pointed at 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 a slice of the universe, or about 200,000 galaxies: every dot on the map is a galaxy, and every galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. . The Milky Way is simply one of these points, the one at the bottom of the map.
The expansion of the universe makes 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 blob at the bottom, just a pixel. And when I say we, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way, which has billions of stars and planets.”says Menard. “We are used to seeing astronomical images that show a galaxy here, a galaxy there, or perhaps a group of galaxies. But what this map shows is a very, very different scale.”
Ménard hopes that people will experience both the undeniable beauty of the map and its impressive breadth of scale. “From this speck at the bottom”he says, “we can map galaxies throughout the universe, and that says something about the power of science.”