This animated flight through the universe (after the jump), a 3D map of massive galaxies, was made by Miguel Aragon of Johns Hopkins University with Mark Subbarao of the Adler Planetarium and Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins. It starts by flying through a large nearby cluster of galaxies and then circles the SDSS-captured universe at about 2 billion light years from Earth. This is a still image from the video.
“There are close to 400,000 galaxies in the animation, with images of the actual galaxies in these positions (or in some cases their near cousins in type) derived from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 7. Vast as this slice of the universe seems, its most distant reach is to redshift 0.1, corresponding to roughly 1.3 billion light years from Earth. SDSS Data Release 9 from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), led by Berkeley Lab scientists, includes spectroscopic data for well over half a million galaxies at redshifts up to 0.8 — roughly 7 billion light years distant — and over a hundred thousand quasars to redshift 3.0 and beyond.”
For more information about BOSS and the latest data release, go to http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2012/08/08/boss-sdss-dr9/.
BOSS is capturing accurate spectra for millions of astronomical objects by using 2,000 plug plates that are placed at the Sloan Foundation Telescope’s focal plane. Each of the 1,000 holes drilled in a single plug plate captures the light from a specific galaxy, quasar, or other target, and conveys its light to a sensitive spectrograph through an optical fiber. The plates are marked to indicate which holes belong to which bundles of the thousand optical fibers that carry the object’s light.