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Mapping Over 1 Billion Galaxies: Astronomers Break Record

February 26, 2023
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Astronomers have just unveiled the biggest two dimensional map of the entire sky to aid in their study of dark energy and dark matter, while also uncovering a treasure trove of discoveries around the cosmos.

This incredible two dimensional jigsaw piece of the sky comprises of an immeasurable one petabyte of data from three different telescopes from a six-year effort that scanned nearly half the sky. Central on the map is the galaxy cluster named Abell 3158, and its light had a redshift of 0.059, which took around 825 million years to reach us on Earth. This massive data download means that the astronomers have the ability to target over 40 million galaxies in their spectroscopic survey.

In order to construct the map, the astronomers used near-infrared wavelength data as well as visible data, in order to better calculate the redshift of galaxies, and other hidden energies that might be on the horizon. Due to the expansion of the universe, the light from these distant galaxies have a shifted red tinge and so by using this wavelength of light, scientists can better probe that far away unseen matter.

This map will also be of aid to other astronomers using other wavelengths such as the X-ray or radio, as they can use this map to pinpoint sources of other emissions.

“This survey data will not just aid our understanding of dark energy, but also a treasure trove of discoveries and information that will benefit scientists into the future,” said Arjun Dey of NSF’s NOIRlab. “We hope that within a few years, this legacy survey will hold a complete map of the entire sky, that will then be used to unlock other secrets of the universe.”

This incredible survey is not just limited to professional astronomers, but also amateurs and the general public. Anyone can access the survey data to explore the sky with ease, which has made this method so influential in the space industry.

So why do astronomers need such an enormous map to understand dark matter and dark energy? This is because these invisible matter can only be detected due to their influence on ordinary matter and by using this map, scientists can see how these forces are adding mass and affecting the interaction between galaxies.

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Legacy Imaging Survey has succeeded in a groundbreaking accomplishment of mapping out the entire sky, that will be a remarkable milestone for astronomy and the space industry. As the universe continues to unfold around us, this surprising death-defying feat may be the start of the many mysteries waiting to be unfolded.

There have been many breathtaking achievements when it comes to understanding the universe, yet this breakthrough is one of the most remarkable yet. Dark matter, dark energy and other invisible matter that exist outside of our own plane of understanding, will slowly come to light through this two-dimensional map of the sky.

Alfredo Zenteno of NSF’s NOIRLab noted, “The addition of near-infrared wavelength data to the Legacy Survey will allow us to better calculate the redshifts of distant galaxies, or the amount of time it took light from those galaxies to reach Earth.”

Take a few moments to appreciate this monumental achievement of astronomers coming together to form this remarkable two-dimensional map of the entire sky. Comment below with your thoughts!

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