Largest ever 3D map of the universe: All you need to know about the mysterious 11 billion years gap in history

After 20 years of mapping the universe, the scientists have released the largest 3D map of the same, filling 11 billion-year gap in history. So far, the project has mapped and measured over 2 million galaxies, stretching from the Milky Way to ancient objects more than 11 billion light-years away.
Updated: Jul 23, 2020 18:09 IST
3D map of the universe
3D map of the universe

After 20 years of mapping the universe, the scientists have released the largest 3D map of the same, filling 11 billion-year gap in history. The researchers are working for 5 years to fill this gap. So far, the project has mapped and measured over 2 million galaxies, stretching from the Milky Way to ancient objects more than 11 billion light-years away.

The mind-boggling 3D map of the universe created by the researchers is called the extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS) and the project is developed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Since last 5 years, the project had over 100 astrophysicists collaborate, providing detailed measurements of more than two million galaxies and bright-burning quasars covering 11 billion years of cosmic time.

The key to this project is called 'redshift', which is a process by which light from the most ancient, distant galaxies is stretched by the expansion of the universe, increasing its wavelength and shifting it toward the red end of the spectrum. Thus, due to this cosmic colour-change, distant light sources appear red, while those near to Earth looks blue. 

As per cosmologist Kyle Dawson, the University of Utah, the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion is well known to the humans but there's a gap of 11 billion years in the middle. For five years straight, researchers have been working to fill that gap and are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade.

The latest and the largest 3D map of the universe reveals that the filaments and voids that define the structure in the Universe, going all the way back to when it was only about 300,000 years old. It also revealed that around 6 billion years ago, the universe began to accelerate. The researchers are of the view that this expansion is due to the 'dark energy', a concept which has not been fully explored yet, as no one knows what it is and where it exists.  

As per the spokesperson of the current phase of SDSS (developer of the project), Karen Masters, The Sloan Foundation Telescope and its near-twin at Las Campanas Observatory will continue to make astronomical discoveries mapping millions of stars and black holes as they change and evolve over cosmic time. 

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