Most detailed 3D map of universe unveiled

It is being touted as the biggest and the most detailed ever 3D map of the universe - a journey going back 11 billion years.

London: It is being touted as the biggest and the most detailed ever 3D map of the universe - a journey going back 11 billion years.
Scientists have studied the brightest objects in the sky to come up with the most complex image of the cosmos they have ever made.

Experts said looking at the image was akin to "looking at the moon through the clouds."

But because the light took eons to reach Earth, it is also a window back to 11 billion years ago when galaxies were first coming together and forming large clusters.

Previous such images had used galaxies to map the universe and were only able to go seven billion years back in time, the Daily Mail reports.

The map could unlock the mysteries of how the universe expanded and may give clues to the nature of dark energy driving its onward march.

It was compiled by scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey who studied 14,000 quasars, extremely bright beacons powered by black holes.

As the light from the quasars comes towards Earth, it lights up clouds of intergalactic hydrogen gas that absorbs it as certain wavelengths.

This leads to a blotchy image which is broken down by colours - red indicates areas where more gas has got through while blue areas have let less gas through.

"Here, we are looking at intergalactic hydrogen gas, which blocks light," said physicist Anže Slosar from the US Department of Energy`s Brookhaven National Lab.

Part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is an instrument called the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, or BOSS, which has enabled the researchers to produce their new images.

Patrick McDonald, of Lawrence Berkeley and Brookhaven National Labs, said that the telescope would in the future allow them to "be able to measure how fast the universe was expanding 11 billion years ago with an accuracy of a couple of per cent".

The findings were presented at the American Physical Society in California.

IANS

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