Astronomers Create the Largest Map of the Universe (Download PDF)


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The first and largest map of the large-scale structure of the universe has been created by the astronomers based on the positions of quasars. Quasars are glowing rings of matter and energy around supermassive black holes, and are incredibly bright.

Map of the universe

Map of the Universe

Map of the universe

Key Highlights:

  • Astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created the first largest map
  • Quasars are so bright, we can see them all the way across the Universe
  • Quasars are the ideal objects that have helped in making the biggest map of universe
  • The amazing brightness of quasars is due to the super-massive black holes found at their centres.
  • As matter and energy fall into a quasar’s black hole, they heat up to incredible temperatures and begin to glow
  • It is this bright glow that is detected by a dedicated 2.5-metre telescope on Earth.
  • The map measures conditions of the universe more than two billion years before the Earth was even formed
  • The eBOSS campaign continues, and astronomers will go on to add more galaxies and quasars to the map
  • The next generation of sky surveys is expected to increase the precision of the map by a factor of ten.

Uses of the Largest Map

  • Scientists used the Sloan Foundation Telescope to observe an unprecedented number of quasars
  • The Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), astronomers measured accurate three-dimensional positions for more than 147,000 quasars
  • The telescope’s observations gave the team the quasars’ distances, which they used to create a three-dimensional map of where the quasars are
  • The findings conform to the standard model of cosmology, as well as Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
  • To use the map to understand the expansion history of the universe, they had to go a step further, using a clever technique involving studying “baryon acoustic oscillations” (BAOs)
Image of the Uses of the largest map

Image of the Uses of the Largest Map

Image of the Uses of the largest map

Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey

  • Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) will map the spatial distribution of luminous red galaxies (LRGs) and quasars to detect the characteristic scale imprinted by baryon acoustic oscillations in the early universe
  • The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), which is using the 2.5-meter (100-inch) Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope.
  • eBOSS is looking into the nature of dark energy by studying baryonic acoustic oscillations
  • BAOs are the remnant signature of sound waves traveling through the very early universe
  • When the universe was about 380,000 years old

- Published/Last Modified on: May 26, 2017


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