This is what the entire known Universe looks like in a single image.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in The Universe
Isn’t it beautiful? This is an illustrated logarithmic scale conception of the observable Universe with the Solar System at the centre.
Encircling the Solar System are the inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri star, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, other nearby galaxies, the cosmic web, cosmic microwave radiation, and invisible plasma produced by the Big Bang at the very edges. See below for uncropped and zoomable versions.
Created by musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, the image is based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, as well as images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft.
The Princeton team, led by astronomers J Richard Gott and Mario Juric, based their logarithmic map of the Universe on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which over the past 15 years has been using a 2.5-metre, wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to create the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, including spectra for more than 3 million astronomical objects.
Logarithmic maps are a really handy way of visualising something as inconceivably huge as the observable Universe, because each increment on the axes increases by a factor of 10 (or order of magnitude) rather than by equal increments. The Princeton team published them in the Astrophysical Journal back in 2005, but you can browse through and download them at this website.
While incredibly helpful, logarithmic maps aren't much to look at, so Pablo Carlos Budassi decided to make something a bit more palatable. According to Kelly Dickerson over at Tech Insider, he got the idea of turning it into a giant circle when making hexaflexagons for his son's birthday one year. Hexaflexagons are paper polygons with a deceptively large number of faces - you probably made them in school without knowing their proper name.
"[W]hen I was drawing hexaflexagons for my son's birthday souvenirs, I started drawing central views of the cosmos and the Solar System," Budassi told Tech Insider. "That day the idea of a logarithmic view came, and in the next days I was able to [assemble] it with Photoshop using images from NASA and some textures created [on] my own."
Head here for a full-sized version of the image by Budassi, and watch below to see a different kind of cosmic visualisation produced by astronomers at the University of Hawaii - this one is of our Milky Way galaxy, in relation to 100,000 neighbouring galaxies:
Our entire universe can be thought of as an enormous network of galaxies that looks sort of like a cosmic web - with dark, empty areas called voids, where there are no galaxies, and areas called superclusters, which contain thousands and thousands of densely packed galaxies. Superclusters are the biggest structures in the universe, but until now, scientists had no idea how to tell where one begins and also where it ends.
Now, astronomers from the University of Hawaii in the US have discovered a new supercluster, which also happens to be our home supercluster, because in the outer edges sits our very own Milky Way. The team, led by astronomer Brent Tully, named the supercluster Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian, and produced a 'map’ showing the Milky Way's position within it, along with 100,000 neighbouring galaxies.
The discovery of Laniakea was made possible when Tully's team decided to study the movements and positions of 8,000 galaxies nearby Earth in unprecedented detail. In doing so, they discovered thousands more galaxies, and were able to figure out which ones are being pulled towards and away from us. From this information, they produced a new animated map which shows the incredible network of thousands of galaxies, and their various cosmic flows, within the supercluster Laniakea. And it looks absolutely stunning.
View the animated map above, and you can read the team’s research in the latest edition of Nature.
speaking of hexaflexagons, hexaflexagon day is Oct. 21. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/flexagon-but-not-forgotten/
Nathaniel, that is tremendously cool.
Budassi got the idea after making hexaflexagons for his son's birthday one year. If you haven't seen a hexaflexagon in action, get ready to have your mind blown.
"Then when I was drawing hexaflexagons for my sons birthday souvenirs I started drawing central views of the cosmos and the solar system," Budassi told Tech Insider in an email. "That day the idea of a logarithmic view came and in the next days I was able to [assemble] it with photoshop using images from NASA and some textures created by my own."
He released the image into public domain, and has created a few other log scales, too.
So what I get from the image and the TL;DR (I will stash or save this to view later) is we are in fact the center of the universe. since the universe is so large that we haven't seen the end of it in any direction and it is a doughnut then we must be in the middle. :) I love being coy.
Also, Thank you Adam for the well written, sourced and linked article.
That's a coy statement but it may as well be true, for no matter what direction we go we will never get to the circumference of the universe.