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WATCH! Largest ever 3-D map of the universe

Last updated on: August 9, 2012 14:39 IST

Largest ever 3-D map of the universe

Scientists have released the largest ever three-dimensional map of massive galaxies and distant black holes in our universe. The new map produced by Sloan Digital Sky Survey III pinpoints the locations and distances of over a million galaxies. It covers a total volume equivalent to that of a cube four billion light-years on a side.

"We want to map the largest volume of the universe yet, and to use that map to understand how the expansion of the universe is accelerating," said Daniel Eisenstein, (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), the director of Sloan Digital Sky Survey III.

With such a map, scientists can retrace the history of the universe over the last six billion years. With that history, they can get better estimates for how much of the universe is made up of dark matter- matter that we can't directly see because it doesn't emit or absorb light -- and dark energy.

The map is the centerpiece of Data Release 9, which publicly releases the data from the first two years of a six-year survey project. The release includes images of 200 million galaxies and spectra of 1.35 million galaxies.

The ongoing SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), will measure the positions of massive galaxies up to six billion light-years away, as well as quasars -- giant black holes actively feeding on stars and gas -- up to 12 billion light-years from Earth

Photographs: Video Courtesy: Sloan Digital Sky Survey