New Video Map Shows Large-Scale Cosmic Structure out to 300 million Light Years

by Nancy Atkinson on June 12, 2013

Researchers with the Cosmic Flows project have been working to map both visible and dark matter densities around our Milky Way galaxy up to a distance of 300 million light-years, and they’ve now released this new video map which shows the motions of structures of the nearby Universe in greater detail than ever before.

“The complexity of what we are seeing is almost overwhelming,” says researcher Hélène Courtois, associate professor at the University of Lyon, France, and associate researcher at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa. Courtois narrates the video.

The video zooms into our local area of the Universe — our Milky Way galaxy lies in a supercluster of 100,000 galaxies — and then slowly draws back to show the cosmography of the Universe out to 300 million light years.

Map showing all galaxies in the local universe color-coded by their distance to us: blue galaxies are the closest, and red are farther, up to 300 million light-years away. Credit: University of Hawaii.

Map showing all galaxies in the local universe color-coded by their distance to us: blue galaxies are the closest, and red are farther, up to 300 million light-years away. Credit: University of Hawaii.

The map shows how the large-scale structure of the Universe is a complex web of clusters, filaments, and voids. Large voids are bounded by filaments that form superclusters of galaxies. These are the largest structures in the universe.

The team explains:

The movements of the galaxies reveal information about the main constituents of the Universe: dark energy and dark matter. Dark matter is unseen matter whose presence can be deduced only by its effect on the motions of galaxies and stars because it does not give off or reflect light. Dark energy is the mysterious force that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

Read more about this video here, and read the team’s paper here.

Cosmography of the Local Universe from Daniel Pomarède on Vimeo.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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