Imagine traveling six billion years back in the history of the universe.
Well, now you can.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) released the largest three-dimensional map of distant black holes and galaxies ever on Wednesday, allowing anyone to take a step into the unknown.
Astronomers will now be able to understand the expansion of the universe and start to explain the “dark matter” and “dark energy” which makes up 96 percent of the Universe.
“Dark matter and dark energy are two of the greatest mysteries of our time,” said David Schlegel of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the principal investigator of BOSS, in a statement released by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
According to NASA, dark matter could possibly be neutron stars or black holes or particles that scientists have only thought about in theory. Scientists may be able to get a better understanding of the matter that they couldn’t normally see because it doesn’t absorb or emit light, hence the name “dark matter."
The map includes data from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) on quasars, black holes that are actively feeding on gas and stars and galaxies, some of which are 12 billion light years away. BOSS is working on mapping these huge galaxies so that they can easily find others. The total volume of the map is equivalent to that of a cube four billion light-years on a side.
“Our goal is to create a map of the universe that will be used long after we are done, by future generations of astronomers, physicists and the general public,” said New York University Professor Michael Blanton in a statement.
Blanton led the team that prepared Data Release 9 (DR9). DR9 began in 2008 and will include the positions of 1.5 million galaxies and 160,000 quasars.
The data is available online at the Data Release 9 website for teachers, students, and public. The data will be completed in 2014.
SDSS-III also unveiled Data Release 8 last year which contains the largest color image of the sky.
We asked readers to submit their captions for these images taken in the first few days of rover Curiosity's visit to Mars.
The rover landed on the red planet earlier this week and became an internet sensation. Scientists are excited too, of course. They hope Curiosity will take them a little closer to knowing whether life existed on Mars.
For each photo in the gallery, we picked one winner. Congratulations to readers talkhazin, Derek and GHems!
(1) Mars Postcard – Woke up late on 1st day vacation. Lots of red sand. Locals are....not any. Miss you all. Love, Curiosity.
(2) Even Martians get their fingers in front of the lens when taking pictures.
(3) Wait..... You mean WE are the UFO's on Mars? = MIND BLOWN
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July 19thAtlas V launch of US DOD MUOS-2 satellite, notable for large "551" config of Atlas
Aug 3rdJapanese HTV-4 flight to ISS on cargo supply mission
Aug 14thSpaceX launch of Canadian satellite in the first launch from their new Vandenberg facility, and first launch of upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle
Aug 28thDelta IV Heavy launch of NROL-65 spy satellite
SeptemberSoyuz TMA-08M flight returning Expedition 36 crew from ISS to Earth (Kazakhstan)
Sept 12thOrbital Sciences maiden flight of Cygnus cargo vehicle on Antares rocket to ISS
Sept 25thSoyuz TMA-10M flight launching Expedition 38 crew to ISS
Dec 9thSpaceX Dragon launch by Falcon 9 v1.1 on CRS-3 cargo supply mission to ISS
recurringfirst powered test flights of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo commercial vehicle, to be used by Virgin Galactic for sub-orbital tourism