Largest 3D Map of the Universe Yet ReleasedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 10, 2012 11:17AM
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is possibly one of the most ambitious scientific endeavors currently ongoing as it tries to map entire hemispheres of the sky. The reason is to try to understand the current large-scale processes going on in the Universe, like its accelerating growth. Recently the third iteration of SDSS (SDSS-III) released Data Release 9 (DR9) which contains two years of the six year survey and constitutes the largest 3D map of the Universe ever made.
As the telescopes SDSS has access to scan across the sky, they collect data as visible images, which you are able to view and have led to some amazing discoveries, but also spectroscopic data. While this data takes longer to collect than visible-light images, it is far more valuable as it enables the distance to objects to be measured. Of the 200 million galaxies in the DR9 release, some 1.35 million also have spectra data.
This survey is able to capture galaxies up to 6 billion light years away, which is a long time, even compared to the current age of the Universe. With so much history in those images that anyone has access to; the hope is that better measurements of dark matter and energy can be made.