Watch: Astronomers created an interactive map of the entire cosmos and it is brilliant
Astronomers at John Hopkins University have painstakingly created an interactive, detailed map of the entire cosmos with "pinpoint accuracy and sweeping beauty".
"Growing up I was very inspired by astronomy pictures, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, and now it's our time to create a new type of picture to inspire people," map creator Brice Ménard, a professor at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement.
With the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman, Ménard mined data over two decades through the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an effort to capture the night sky through a telescope based in New Mexico. The latter has observed millions of galaxies.
Now the public can finally see what was solely accessible to scientists at The Map of the Universe.
The whole cosmos in a 2D-sphere
The full map is actually a two-dimensional sphere, showing a thin slice of the Universe. Its thickness is about 10 degrees.
"Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries. But nobody took the time to create a map that is beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to people who are not scientists," Our goal here is to show everybody what the universe really looks like," said Ménard.
The map peeks into 200,000 galaxies - with each dot on the map representing a galaxy, and each galaxy in turn containing billions of stars and planets.
From the Big Bang to the Milky Way
At the very bottom of the map, one can spot our galaxy, the Milky Way. This map would look similar if we were looking at the Universe from another galaxy.
"From this speck at the bottom," Ménard said, "we are able to map out galaxies across the entire universe, and that says something about the power of science."
And at the top, the first flash of radiation emitted right after the Big Bang, which happened 13.7 billion years ago, can be seen.
Today, that radiation at the top is observed as radio waves, called Cosmic Microwave Background - the edge of any "observable" Universe.
'We are just a pixel'
The map also beautifully highlights the expanding nature of the universe, which stretches the wavelength of light. Interestingly, the farther an object is in the universe, the redder it appears to us.
The map shows two blue-to-red redshift sequences: one for galaxies in the lower half and one for quasars in the upper half.
"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 said. "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."
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