Space

New Map of the Universe Displays Span of Entire Cosmos With Pinpoint Accuracy and Sweeping Beauty

Brice Ménard and Nikita Shtarkman

Brice Ménard (left) and Nikita Shtarkman examine the map of the observable universe. Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

The map charts a broad expanse of the universe, from the Milky Way to ‘the edge of what can be seen.’

A new map of the universe displays the span of the entire known cosmos for the first time with pinpoint accuracy and sweeping beauty.

Compiled from data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map was created by astronomers from Johns Hopkins University. It allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists.

The interactive map depicts the actual position and real colors of 200,000 galaxies. It is available online, where it can also be downloaded for free.


A new map of the universe displays for the first time the span of the entire known cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and sweeping beauty. Credit: Johns Hopkins University

“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,” says map creator Brice Ménard, a professor at Johns Hopkins. “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.”

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering effort to capture the night sky through a telescope based in New Mexico. Night after night for years, the telescope aimed at slightly different locations to capture this unusually broad perspective.

The map visualizes a slice of the universe, or about 200,000 galaxies—each dot on the map is a galaxy and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. The Milky Way is simply one of these dots, the one at the very bottom of the map. Ménard assembled the map with the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman.

Created by Johns Hopkins University astronomers with data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists. Credit: Johns Hopkins University

The map is even more colorful due to the expansion of the universe. Because of this, the farther an object is, the redder it appears. The first flash of radiation emitted soon after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago is revealed at the top of the map.

“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 says. “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.”

Ménard hopes people will experience both the map’s undeniable beauty and its awe-inspiring sweep of scale.

“From this speck at the bottom,” he says, “we are able to map out galaxies across the entire universe, and that says something about the power of science.”

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  • New units for big and small just announced.
    https://apnews.com/article/science-europe-paris-e0fa7e7e9004ee3b8ac6c2e532cef39f
    Quoting from the news release:
    There’s the gargantuan “ronna” (that’s 27 zeros after the one)
    and its big brother the “quetta” – (that’s 30 zeros).

    Their ant-sized counterparts are the “ronto” (27 zeros after the decimal point),
    and the “quecto” (with 30 zeros after the decimal point) --
    representing the smaller numbers needed for quantum science and particle physics.

    Did you know that the mass of an electron is one rontogram?
    And that a byte of data on a mobile increases the phone’s mass by one quectogram?

    Incredibly, “the diameter of the entire observable universe is just one ronnameter,”
    End quoting.

    We are stuck in the middle, not too big, not too small, the sweet spot. :-)

  • Honestly, what is this picture supposed to reflect? That our universe was still created from nothing? That our accelerating, expanding universe is shaped like a triangle?

    When is the scientific community going to finally realize that all the problems it's trying to understand and find solutions for are all caused by this Lambda-CDM model? This model has absolutely ruined everything but the scientific community doesn't see it. Where did all that matter come from at the bottom? Why did it expand? Why was it hot? All those unanswered questions need answers and the fact that there are none is exactly why all the problems exist. I just can't believe the smartest people in the world cannot recognize the destruction this theory has caused for decades.

    • No of course not. It's just defining a single point in my eye and would infact spread around us or better than our planet our galaxy. Imagine the triangle holograms, it would be a cone. Imagine that holo spanned out from the cone in all directions filling in any void area and you have a map of the known universe. The triangle is a very strong shape but remember or go back and look closer this isn't a triangle. Triangles are have three flat lines which make all lines signal an end. This design makes only the point seem like an end but because we know space is 3d in all directions around us we can safely assume we know a 2dpic shooting in one direction isn't going to be it. We will never map just one direction. The article reads *(New Map of the Universe Displays Span of Entire Cosmos With Pinpoint Accuracy)

    • It is a map. We have data about the galaxies we can see from the surface of the Earth. How far, what position, what color does it appear to us (a number of factors contribute to that). That's all just data. You plot the data out into a map or picture, that's what this is. This has nothing to do with whatever theory you want to complain about. The bottom is us (as a galaxy.) It doesn't try to answer where we came from or any other question, except where we see the other galaxies from our sky. It is just a picture of what we can see. I suppose you are injecting a religious argument in disguise, but the fact is it doesn't matter if God made the universe or a big bang, this is what it looks like to us right now.

    • How absolutely absurd. Did you not read the article at all? I think it's people like you that honestly destroy the world with your lack of willingness to participate in learning and growing as well as your short sighted attempt to degrade and insult the wonderful minds of scientists that are trying to help you see how beautiful and vast our universe is. Crawl back under the rock you came from and stop insulting the hard work this group did to organize this beautiful map for the whole word to see the beauty they could see.

    • I love the flat-earth, tin foil hat, vaccine and election-denier nut cases like Mike Pollock and The 10th Man that post comments on sites like this. What could they possibly be hoping to accomplish? Oh, maybe distracting us from meaningful conversation. Unfortunately, mission accomplished.

  • Another monumental waste of funds that could help Humanity. Name one life astronomy has improved or saved. Knowledge is okay for knowledge's sake. But not a the expense of human lives. Stop this nonsense, put cosmologist and astronomers in the fields to pick lettuce. Making salads is better than nothing..or astronomy.

  • @the 10th man (kid)
    What have scientists created exploring space?
    You need to stop using ALL of the following AND a lot more.... head back on over to Truth Social AND Infowars - neanderthal... Magbilly.

    1. Artificial limbs
    2. Scratch-resistant lenses
    3. Insulin pump
    4. Firefighting equipment
    5. DustBusters
    6. LASIK
    7. Shock absorbers for buildings
    8. Solar cells
    9. Water filtration
    10. Better tires
    11. Wireless headsets
    12. Adjustable smoke detector
    13. Invisible braces
    14. Freeze-dried foods
    15. Camera phones
    16. CAT scans
    17. Baby formula
    18. Lifeshears
    19. Grooved pavement
    20. Air purifier
    21. Memory foam
    22. Workout machines
    23. Home insulation
    24. Infrared ear thermometers
    25. Ice-resistant airplanes
    26. Portable computer
    27. LEDs
    28. 3D food printing
    29. Computer mouse
    30. Athletic shoes

  • Big bang is incorrect theory. The universe is infinite in size and age. The void far exceeds the matter and energy. No one wants to wrap their brain around such a concept, but it is the ONLY POSSIBLE CONCLUSION when you comprehend it.

  • "In the beginning there was a void.
    Then, there was another void.
    And slowly, we began to communicate...
    void by void."
    Professor Irwin Corey

  • Fred Hoyle, a brilliant and beloved astronomer, argued strongly for a universe without beginning and against the"big bang", in fact he was the one who named it, silly name for a silly idea. But The contrary evidence mounted up and converged over the years. It changed his mind, because he cared about what is true, not what he happened to find appealing. That is how science works.

    I am excited by this new map!

  • @Wut: Good partial list. Of course every measure of time we have is based on astronomical observations, so add clocks and calendars. Also we should include inventions based on discoveries, such as General Relativity, that required astronomical confirmation. Einstein had never heard of GPS or man-made satellites, yet GPS absolutely depends on his theory of GR, to even work! Just goes to show that demanding practical applications before we fund research is a fool’s argument.

  • Actually this is essential in effort to get off earth. A need that may become urgently necessary in about 25yrs with the population currently counting 8 billion which is accompanied by sustainablablity of earth being capped-off at 10 billion mark.
    So how does this better anyone's life?
    1) less humans on earth means less strain on the natural resources the planet produces to sustain life. We better the living planet.
    2) less human on earth means we can begin a repairative operation on the environment and ecosystem which will in turn provide more space for wild life also giving them a better life.
    3) less humans on earth means less crowded human areas. Ever got angry walking down the side walk cause there was 60 people walking between both directions and crossing the street wouldn't make a difference, same thing in traffic but it's worse for reason I shouldn't have to say. More human will value the earth more with more space instead of turning our planet into a space ship/floating rock of buildings.
    4) why is a map important 🤔 lol. I'll wait....🤭. Planning, know where you came from, know where your headìng, make adjustments along the way, and you'll never get lost. Space doesn't have Google maps yet🤣. Without knowledge half the human race would still be beating the other half in the head with sticks and stones. So never down play intellect because wether or not it's us or the universe. This kind of intellect maybe the only thing standing between the death of the only known intelligent species in the universe capable of thinking on astronomical levels and saving billions of lives(men/women/children,husband's, wives, moms, dads, aunts, uncle, the people you pass by and never say good morning too.

    Things to keep in mind
    1)we're overdue an extinction level event on earth by more than thousands of millions òf years.
    2)luck is a fools friend.
    3)our sun has a due date
    4)everything in the universe must come to an end and eventually cease to exist, except humanity.
    The more we understand this marvelous creation the universe and continuous ventures into all sorts of immortality the more likely it is that we will survive all challenges present and moderately achieve some level of eternal life across the cosmos. When we have the laws of universal physics many more things will be possible. Navigation/maps/spreadvstimevsdistanceFROMaTObvsunknown is key to all these plausible variables taking place at a faster rate.

By
Johns Hopkins University

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