Just a quick picture...

Ever wonder what it would look like if you took about 100,000 nearby large (i.e., Milky Way sized and larger) galaxies, reduced each one to a point, and mapped them? Well, at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, they did this, from the point of view of where we are in the Universe. We are the Milky Way, the one dot dead center in this image. Take a look, and click to enlarge:

Does it make you feel insignificant? Or does it make you feel like you're a part of something wondrous? Or both? However it makes you feel, I hope you enjoy looking at it!


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This might be a dumb question but why is there all that black space across the middle of that picture.

I suspect because it would be difficult to see galaxies through the haze introduced by intervening stars in the galactic plane, but I Am Not An Astrophysicist.

That is a seriously beautiful image.

Great. Now I want cake...

By Arnold Jamtart (not verified) on 27 Aug 2009 #permalink

Where is Burger King in that picture?

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 27 Aug 2009 #permalink

Cool! Now, how about doing it in 3D.

2 and 3. Interesting question. However the galactic plane, which I assume to mean the dark bands in the milky way that prevent us from seeing the center of the milky way should only produce lack of optical seeing in one direction - towards our galaxies center. Don't know if these are only optically observable galaxies but even if so it wouldn't explain the bands in both directions. Is it an artifact of the survey (i.e. observations that have been made) and not real at all?

I believe there is "stuff" on the galactic plane looking away from the galactic center; from our point of view. Is this negligible? Can we see through it?

Several years ago, I was in an art gallery and on display was a large block of plastic (it was shaped like a dodecahedron) that had a similar representation of the distribution of the galaxies, except that it was 3-D. The artist had used computer controlled lasers and a special plastic that would react only to certain level of light. The lasers were programed (or, at least, that was the artists claim) to intersect at a point based on the galaxies coordinates. I don't think that there were anywhere near 100,000 points but it was still most impressive.

The cake is a lie!

This picture is amazing. A group at CITA at the University of Toronto has made some similar pictures from running n-body simulations of the entire universe.


This one runs from z=50 (~ the big bang) to z=0 (now), showing how the galactic super clusters can form.

Science needs more images like this, these are the ones that can inspire a person to learn more about the universe around them.

Truly, we are but mites on the navel fluff of the navel fluff of the arse wart of the universe. It feels good.

By foolfodder (not verified) on 27 Aug 2009 #permalink

maybe the dark parts are because of not being able to get data during the daytime, and they didn't do the survey over the course of a full year? just a guess, not sure.

no, i'm wrong, that would still only be one dark swath, not two...

maybe because you can only see so much in the "north-south" direction in the hemisphere of the telescope (assuming ground-based)

Anyone know how many light years we are looking at?

The missing data is indeed from a single swath of the sky.

It appears to be broken into two parts because of the way it is transformed into a 2d projection of 3d space, or something like that, I don't know the explanation for sure.

Meh, only about one millionth or so of the visible galaxies....still lots of work to do!

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 27 Aug 2009 #permalink

Cool, but for several reasons I think it gives the false impression that we're at the center of something.

By multipath (not verified) on 27 Aug 2009 #permalink

@ Naked Bunny:

you're wrong! *Ethan* is at the center of the observable universe. we all just happen to be within one earth diameter of him, so are only along for the ride!

We're insignificant, but we can all look up in wonder!

Physicists don't believe we're in a Universe anymore, but in a multiverse. Latest findings from satellites are beginning to confirm the existence of parallel universes. Its incredible the immensity of this. We cannot fathom it. Science will probably never have an answer as to who lives out there, beyond us.

In "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by the late Douglas Adams, an instrument of torture called "The Total Perspective Vortex" is intended to burn out the brain of the hapless Zaphod Breeblebox. The principle is, no one can endure seeing himself in a *true perspective* to the rest of the Universe. That perspective was extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, but this galaxy map is a better starting point!

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 01 Sep 2009 #permalink