SDSS-III and the Cosmic Web

It’s typical, isn’t it? You wait weeks for an interesting astronomical result to blog about and then two come along together…

Another international conference I’m not at is the 217th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in the fine city of Seattle, which yesterday saw the release of some wonderful things produced by SDSS-III, the third incarnation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. There’s a nice article about it in the Guardian, followed by the usual bizarre selection of comments from the public.

I particularly liked the following picture of the cosmic web of galaxies, clusters and filaments that pervades the Universe on scales of hundreds of millions of lightyears, although it looks to me like a poor quality imitation of a Jackson Pollock action painting:

The above image contains about 500 million galaxies, which represents an enormous advance in the quest to map the local structure of the Universe in as much detail as possible. It will also improve still further the precision with which cosmologists can analyse the statistical properties of the pattern of galaxy clustering.

The above represents only a part (about one third) of the overall survey; the following graphic shows how much of the sky has been mapped. It also represents only the imaging data, not the spectroscopic information and other information which is needed to analyse the galaxy distribution in full detail.

There’s also a short video zooming out from one galaxy to the whole Shebang.

The universe is a big place.


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One Response to “SDSS-III and the Cosmic Web”

  1. telescoper Says:

    I’m confused by this comment. Are you saying that the SDSS-III is really a computer simulation?

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