Move through space with a new interactive map

Move through space with a new interactive map

Credits: Visualization by B. MéNard & N. Shtarkman

A new map of the universe shows for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with extraordinary precision and stunning beauty.

Created by Johns Hopkins University astronomers with data collected over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only available to scientists.

The interactive mapwhich shows the actual position and actual colors of 200,000 galaxiesit is available online, where it can also be downloaded for free.

“Growing up, I was very inspired by astronomical images, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, and now it’s our time to create a new kind of image to inspire people,” says map creator Brice Menard, a professor at Johns Hopkins.

Credit: Johns Hopkins University

“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands scientific papers and discoveries. But no one has taken the time to create a map that is beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to non-scientists. Our goal is to show everyone what the universe really looks like.”

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering attempt to capture the night sky through a telescope based in New Mexico. Night after night for years, the telescope aimed at slightly different locations to capture this unusually wide perspective.

The map, which Menard put together with the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman, visualizes a portion 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 simply one of these points, the one at the very bottom of the map.

The expansion of the universe makes this map even more colorful. The further away the 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, which has billions stars and planets,” Menard says. “We’re used to seeing astronomical images that show 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 people will experience both the map’s undeniable beauty and its stunning sweep of scale.

“From this blob at the bottom,” he says, “we can map galaxies across the universe, and that says something about the power of science.”

More information:

Citation: Scroll through the universe with a new interactive map (2022, November 17) Retrieved November 18, 2022, from

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