Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2024

To the delight of astronomy lovers worldwide, a team of scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has recently unveiled the largest and most detailed 3D map of the universe ever.

Thanks to data collected by the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), the astonishing image presents a gigantic cosmic web of galaxies across billions of light-years. With that said, the project is only about 10 percent of the way through its five-year mission.

The 3D map compiles data from the telescope’s first seven months of galaxy surveying. The Earth is on the lower left side of the image, looking out across 7.5 million galaxies that span a distance of about 5 billion light-years in the direction of the constellation Virgo. The detailed cosmic web serves to help astronomers and other scientists learn more about the expansion of the universe.

“There is a lot of beauty to it,” said Julien Guy, a scientist at Berkeley Lab. “In the distribution of the galaxies in the 3D map, there are huge clusters, filaments, and voids. They’re the biggest structures in the universe. But within them, you find an imprint of the very early universe, and the history of its expansion since then.”

The overall purpose of DESI is to measure the effect of dark energy on the expansion of the universe. As part of that effort, the revolutionary telescope collects detailed data on the color spectrum of tens of millions of galaxies, revealing how far away they are from Earth. By end of its mission in 2026, the instrument will have surveyed over 35 million galaxies, stretching as far as 11 billion light-years away.

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