June 14, 2013
New Project Maps 3D Motions Of The Nearby Universe In Unprecedented Detail
Watch the video "Cosmography of the Local Universe"
John P. Millis, PhD for redOrbit.com — Your Universe OnlineVisualizing the Universe is quite difficult. For one, the cosmos is enormous, far beyond the dimensions the human mind can comprehend. However, there is also the technical problem that we usually see images of the Universe as a two-dimensional image or map. Without the benefit of depth, we can´t truly appreciate the scale, orientation, and distribution of matter in the Universe.
Now, however, an international team of researchers has created a map of the Universe near the Milky Way that better represents the physical dimensions of space. To accomplish this, the team created a video that allows for the perception of depth by rotating, zooming, and panning across the map space.
Researchers were able to include visible matter — such as the stars and gas that make up galaxies — but also the vast voids, the dark matter filaments, and intergalactic gas structures that fill the Universe. This broad inclusion of matter in such a map is a new revelation in the field.
Since dark matter represents more than 80 percent of the total mass of the Universe, understanding its distribution and motion in the context of the galaxies in our corner of the cosmos is an important puzzle piece in verifying the cosmological model.
The video was released at the conference Cosmic Flows: Observations and Simulations in Marseille, France. The team revealed the video in honor of the career and 70th birthday of Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a contributor to the universe visualization project.
Publication of “Cosmography of the Local Universe,” detailing the science and methodology behind the video, will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.