New map of the universe shows the span of the entire cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and awe-inspiring beauty

Brice Menard and Nikita Shtarkman

Brice Ménard (left) and Nikita Shtarkman examine the map of the observable universe. Photo credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

The map shows a wide expanse of the universe from which[{” attribute=””>Milky Way to ‘the edge of what can be seen.’

A new map of the universe displays the span of the entire known cosmos for the first time with pinpoint accuracy and sweeping beauty.

Compiled from data mined over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map was created by astronomers from Johns Hopkins University. It allows the public to experience data previously only accessible to scientists.

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


A new map of the universe reveals for the first time the span of the entire known cosmos with pinpoint accuracy and stunning beauty. Photo credit: Johns Hopkins University

“Growing up, I was very inspired by astronomical imagery, stars, nebulae and galaxies, and now it’s time to create a new kind of imagery to inspire people,” says mapmaker Brice Ménard, professor at the Johns Hopkins University. “Astrophysicists around the world have been analyzing this data for years, leading to thousands of scientific papers and discoveries. But nobody has taken the time to create a map that is beautiful, scientifically accurate, and accessible to people who aren’t scientists. Our goal here is to show everyone what the universe really looks like.”

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a pioneering telescope survey of the night sky in New Mexico. For years, night after night, the telescope aimed at slightly different locations to capture this unusually wide perspective.

The map visualizes a part 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 points, the one at the bottom of the map. Ménard assembled the map with the help of former Johns Hopkins computer science student Nikita Shtarkman.

Map of the observable universe

Created by Johns Hopkins University astronomers using data collected over two decades by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the map allows the public to experience data previously only available to scientists. Photo credit: Johns Hopkins University

The map is even more colorful as the universe expands. Because of this, an object appears redder the farther away it is. The first flash of radiation was emitted shortly after[{” attribute=””>Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago is revealed at the top of the map.

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

Ménard hopes people will experience both the map’s undeniable beauty and its awe-inspiring sweep of scale.

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

Source