Mapping the Universe

Jun 12, 2017

Space Minute PSA Series #2: Mapping the Universe

Scientists in 2016 debuted the most comprehensive 3-D map of the known universe.  For five years, sky surveys from hundreds of physicists and astronomers were collected and compiled to consolidate all that is known about how galaxies in our universe are distributed.

Known in short as BOSS, the map is large: tiny dots, the size of pinheads, represent not stars but entire galaxies. A partial slice of this map covering only on 1/20th of the sky contains 43,000 galaxies.

In all, the project measured 1.2 million galaxies covering a volume of 650 cubic billion light-years.

But even more amazing is that the map only represents a quarter of the night sky that can be seen from Earth.

One of the main purposes of the map is to allow scientists to see how dark energy and dark matter are moving galaxies through time and space. This detailed 3-D map gives us a better picture of our place in the universe.

Captain Winston Scott is a retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot and astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions and walked in space three times. He’s now an administrator and faculty member at the Florida Institute of Technology. More information on Space Minutes at