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- 6 years ago
the most complete 3D map of the local universe, covering a distance of 380 million light-years, ever created.
This giant, 3D atlas of the sky called the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) was amassed from over a decade of observation and measurements by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). It was created using near-infrared light, which penetrates intervening dust, allowing astronomers to see more of the sky, and by measuring redshifts.
Redshifts are the key to producing the third dimension in the 3D map. A galaxy's light is redshifted (stretched to longer wavelengths) by the expansion of the universe. By measuring redshifts, the astronomers could calculate galactic distances. The 2MRS team measure and catalogued more than 43,000 galaxies.
To choose which galaxies to map, astronomers drew from the images made by the Two-Micron All-SkySurvey (2MASS), a near-infrared survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts from 1997 to 2001. It used two telescopes—one at Mt. Hopkins, AZ, and one at CTIO, Chili—to scan the entire sky, but it didn't add redshifts, so it only produced a 2-D image.
The new 2MRS map reveals details of previously hidden areas behind our Milky Way. These details will help astronomers better understand the motion of the Milky Way in respect to rest of the universe, which has always puzzled astronomers.
"The 2MASS Redshift Survey is a wonderfully complete new look at the local universe - particularly near the Galactic plane," according to Karen Masters, who presented the map at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Wednesday. The Galactic plane and several other areas of the local universe are generally obscured by dust, but the 2MRS map was able to show them in great detail.
Scientists and astronomers are constantly providing us with a better way to view our universe. Google teamed up with Slooh last year to add an extra layer in Google Earth that lets users explore outer space in real-time. To provide an immersive celestial experience, this summer Chicago's Adler Planetarium will open the Grainger Sky Theater, which will feature ultra high-definition screen resolution of more than 8,000x8,000 pixels.