Tag: cosmic cartography

The Most Amazing Map You’ll See Today (No Matter What Day It Is)

By Corey S. Powell | June 16, 2013 4:27 pm

There are many way to celebrate your 70th birthday. You could sit down in front of a cake packed tight with flaming candles. You could go bowling with your buds wearing a T-shirt that says, “Over the hill–and picking up speed.” Or you could help put together the most amazing, three-dimensional map of the universe ever created.

cosmic map

Map showing all galaxies out to 300 million light years. Colors indicate distance: blue is closest, red is farthest. The long strands are the largest structures in the universe. (Credit: Courtois, Tully, et al)

Brent Tully opted for door #3.

Tully, a cosmologist at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, has probably done more than any other single living scientist to help uncover what the universe looks like in three dimensions. That’s no small challenge. As anyone knows from looking up a the night sky, appearances alone tell you almost nothing about which stars are near and which are ¬†far. The same goes for galaxies. Measuring their distances is so difficult that less than a century many astronomers doubted that other galaxies even existed. At the time, some of the leading researchers thought that what we now call galaxies were actually “spiral nebulae”–small, nearby clouds of gas that were turning into individual stars. That is the kind of challenge that Tully has taken on, with staggering results. Read More

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