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Interactive map shows scale of universe with 200,000 galaxies

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Anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut has a way to view space from the comfort of their own home. An interactive map of the known universe.


new map , you can see about 200,000 galaxies arranged in their real positions in space and color. This includes parts of the universe that are so far away that we can catch a glimpse of the Big Bang.

This is a gigantic-scale view of the observable universe, previously accessible only to scientists.

Astronomers at Johns Hopkins University have released the night sky using data collected over the past 20 years by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

The idea for the map came from Professor Bryce Menard of Johns Hopkins University, who grew up watching astronomical photographs of stars, nebulae and galaxies.

It was that beauty that he wanted to share more widely.

“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries. said in a press release. “But no one took the time to create a map that was beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to non-scientists. It’s about showing everyone what it looks like.”

Together he and Nikita Starkman, a former computer science student at Johns Hopkins University, created a map of the galaxy.

When you zoom out, the photo looks like a colorful stippled pizza slice. That is, an inverted triangle filled with countless tiny dots in bands of different colors.

But each dot isn’t just a star, it’s a galaxy.

The farther a galaxy is from Earth, the longer it takes light to reach it. So this map looks deep into the past as well. This map allows us to go back to 13.7 billion years ago.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a New Mexico-based project that painstakingly maps the night sky by pointing telescopes in different directions and slowly gathering information. Only a fraction of the collected data was used to create this new map.

“We’re collecting data for millions of galaxies out there,” Menard explained in a video from Johns Hopkins University.

In the video, Menard said he had thousands of individual pictures of galaxies, but wanted to compile a map that gave a sense of the full scale of the observable universe.

“It’s very inspiring to see the vastness of space,” he said.

This map does not include the entire depth of the night sky. It shows all the galaxies packed into a thick “slice” measured as the telescope pans across the sky. A perfect map is spherical and packed with scattered galaxies, making it difficult to visualize.

In the video, Shtarkman notes that the amount of data available makes it easy to create maps, but it’s difficult to organize it into user-friendly maps.

“You basically work at maximum scale,” he said.

Accessible online or as a free download, the map allows viewers to zoom in on the center to get a better view of how many galaxies are clustered within the image.

As you go back in time, the colors on the map change. This gradient isn’t just for show. The colors of galaxies we see are part of how scientists understand how far away galaxies and stars are from us. The wavelengths of light are shifted to become longer and redder as they move away from us as the universe continues to expand. This is called “redshift”.

The map describes “faint, blue” spiral galaxies like the Milky Way and elliptical galaxies that are “yellowish and much brighter than spiral galaxies.” These two are followed by a band of redshifted elliptical galaxies.

About 7.3 billion years into the past, the galaxy will be nearly invisible, replaced on maps by brighter quasars. Quasars are massive black holes at the center of some galaxies that emit bright blue light when light is drawn into them.

At 11 billion years, even quasars redshift. And 13.7 billion years has bright brands of orange and cyan. This is the “first flash” emitted after the Big Bang and is detected as radio waves known as the cosmic microwave background.

“I can’t see anything beyond this point,” the map says. “The travel time of light to us is longer than the age of the universe.”

The map also allows us to visualize what the night sky would look like if we could see all these galaxies with the naked eye in a series of striking images.

At the bottom of the triangular map, the point where all the galaxies radiate outward, is a small label that says “You are here.”

“On this map, we are just the bottommost point, one pixel,” Menard said in a release. We are used to seeing astrophotographs that show He’s a galaxy here, He’s a galaxy over there, or perhaps a group of galaxies. But this map shows a very different scale. “

“From this point at the bottom, we can map galaxies throughout the universe. That says something about the power of science.”

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