Scroll through the universe with a new interactive map

Scroll through the universe with a new interactive map

Credit: Visualization by B. MéNard & N. Shtarkman

A new map of the universe shows for the first time the extent of the entire known cosmos with extraordinary precision and sweeping beauty.

Created by Johns Hopkins University astronomers with data extracted over two decades from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only available to scientists.

The which depicts the actual position and real colors of 200,000 pcs is available online where it can also be downloaded for free.

“Growing up, I was very inspired by astronomical pictures, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it’s time to create a new type of picture that inspires people,” said map creator Brice Menard, a professor at Johns Hopkins.

Credit: Johns Hopkins University

“Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, resulting in thousands and discoveries. But no one took the time to create a map that was beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to non-scientists. Our goal here is to show everyone what the universe really looks like.”

Sloan’s Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering effort to capture the through a telescope based in New Mexico. Night after night over the years, the telescope is aimed at slightly different locations to capture this unusually wide perspective.

The map, which Ménard put together with the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Starkman, visualizes a portion of the universe, or about 200,000 galaxies — each point on the map is a galaxy, and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. The Milky Way is just one of those dots, the one at the very bottom of the map.

The expansion of the universe contributes to making this map even more colorful. The further away an object is, the redder it appears. The top of the map reveals the first flash of radiation emitted shortly after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

“In this map, we are just a speck at the very bottom, just a pixel. And when I say we, I mean our galaxy, the Milky Way, which has billions and planets,” Menard says. “We’re used to seeing astronomical pictures showing a galaxy here, a galaxy there, or maybe a group of galaxies. But what this map shows is a very, very different scale.”

Ménard hopes that people will feel both the undeniable beauty of the map and its imposing scale.

“From this speck at the bottom,” he says, “we can map galaxies across the universe, and that says something about the power of science.”

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Quote: Scroll the universe with a new interactive map (2022 November 17) Retrieved November 18, 2022 from

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