You recently got to view a brand new interactive map of galaxies that straddle the boundaries of the known universe. “Until now no one has taken the time to create a beautiful, scientifically accurate and accessible map.”
Via www.mapoftheuniverse.net you can scroll to the frontiers of the known universe with an interactive and elegantly designed map. It was compiled by astronomers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
The map is based on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This long-running project, where a telescope in New Mexico, USA, has been scanning the sky almost every night for more than two decades, is now translated into a map of some 200,000 galaxies as seen from our own Milky Way.
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Astrophysicists from around the world have been working with this data for a long time, resulting in thousands of publications and scientific discoveries. But until now no one has taken the time to create a beautiful, scientifically accurate map that is also accessible to non-scientists,” says author Bryce Maynard, an astronomer at American University, in a video.
By imagining 200,000 galaxies, the site’s creators give visitors a special impression of how big the universe actually is. “We are just one pixel on this map, at the bottom of the map. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean the Milky Way: a place with billions of stars and planets,” says Maynard.
Together with artist Nikita Shtarkman, a former computer science student at Johns Hopkins University, Maynard was able to visualize a part of the universe — in the shape of a slice of pizza — that extends out to the boundaries of our known universe. So, if you scroll up, you will see the farthest visible light, which was emitted a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
Maynard: “Growing up, I was inspired by astronomical images of stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Now is the time to create a new type of image to inspire people. The fact that we can visualize the entire visible universe from the little dot at the bottom of this map says something about the power of science.
What is striking when you look at the map is the large number of different colors, almost like a full rainbow. This is because light from galaxies at different distances also reaches us at different wavelengths. The farther away a galaxy is, the redder it appears. So you see that the expanding universe provides not only an insightful picture, but also a beautiful one.
“I think everyone can take something from this map and better understand our place in this universe,” says Maynard. This is a completely different scale than what we are used to from a map. And that while we see here only a part of the whole.
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