This Is the Largest Map of Our Universe Ever Created


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This Is the Largest Map of Our Universe Ever Created

This Is the Largest Map of Our Universe Ever Created

Creating this map took more than 1,400 observing nights at three telescopes over the course of six years. Completely covering half the sky was a huge logistical challenge for the 200 researchers involved in the project. For the telescopes to take the best images possible, the team had to consider hours of darkness, weather, exposure time, the paths of planets and satellites, the moon’s brightness and location—the list goes on.

Even with all those variables factored in, there was still the matter of creating one homogeneous image. It’s not as simple as just stitching them all together—the scientists needed a way to minimize distortions caused by weather and atmospheric turbulence. To do this they used supercomputers to compare their images with past sky surveys and select the ones that most closely matched.

Once they had the most accurate and uniform pictures possible, they put them together and this is the result. Taking in the two billion objects sprinkled over such an enormous backdrop can be a bit overwhelming. To make navigating the stars more user-friendly, the researchers adapted street-mapping software to suit their needs. They created a tool called the Legacy Sky Survey Viewer. Users can jump to an object if they know its name, or toggle filters to help find specific object types. They can also turn on overlays to see constellations, or which galaxies the researchers plan to further study for the 3D map.


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