3 D Cosmic Map helps You Wrap Your Brain Around the Universe’s Weirdness
by Adam Mann
As someone who writes about astronomy, I know that figuring out the universe is tough. There’s all these weird things — dark matter, quasars, cosmological expansion — that are genuinely difficult to get a good handle on.
So anything that helps come to terms with how the cosmos works is commendable, and for that reason I really like this new 3-D map assembled by scientists working with the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan using data from the Subaru Telescope. The graphic places more than 1,000 galaxies in their respective positions out in the universe, taking the flat starry night sky that we normally experience and giving us a new perspective. These galaxies are between 8 and 10 billion years old.
There’s something actually user-friendly about the scale, which covers a mere 2.5 billion light-years in distance backwards and 600 million light-years across (yes, that’s huge but this is the universe we’re talking about). Other 3-D cosmic maps have plotted out some 500 million objects at distances up to 7 billion light-years from Earth. While cool-looking, you tend to miss the trees for the forest when inundated by so much information.
So what are we looking at? Well the bottom left shows you the field of view: That is, the flat night sky that you would see from Earth if you had an enormous telescope like the Subaru. That view is then expanded so that we can see each galaxy’s position out in space relative to one another. The nice thing is that this view lets you get a good handle on the concept of cosmological redshift, or what astronomers call z…
(read more: Wired Science)
image: National Astronomical Observatory - Japan