Thanks to ten years of painstaking work by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, budding astronomers and astronauts now have a much clearer map of what lies in the cosmos beyond our pale blue dot. The following image is the product of the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) and is “the most complete 3-D map of the local universe (out to a distance of 380 million light-years) ever created.” The map is not only stunning to look at for those of us who will never use it for professional reasons, but it is about to make teaching the specifics of the universe infinitely more comprehensive. The technology behind it is also fascinating:
“The survey scanned the entire sky in three near-infrared wavelength bands, because near-infrared light penetrates intervening dust better than visible light, allowing astronomers to see more of the sky. They then ‘redshifted’ a galaxy’s light by stretching it, which allows them to see (and map) the third dimension.”
To download the full 27.4-megabyte image CLICK HERE. For the image below, CLICK ONCE TO ENLARGE, CLICK AGAIN TO ZOOM.