(ORDO NEWS) — On Monday, astrophysicists released the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, which is the result of an analysis of more than 4 million galaxies and incredibly bright quasars.
The efforts of hundreds of scientists from about 30 institutions around the world have provided a “complete history of the expansion of the universe,” said Will Percival of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
The project, begun more than two decades ago, researchers made “the most accurate measurements in the history of expansion in a wide range of space-time,” said the statement.
The map is based on the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), entitled Enhanced Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), with data collected from an optical telescope in New Mexico over six years.
The young universe after the Big Bang is relatively well known for its extensive theoretical models and observations of the cosmic microwave background – the electromagnetic radiation of the nascent cosmos.
Galaxy studies and distance measurements have also contributed to a better understanding of the expansion of the universe over billions of years.
The map shows threads of matter and voids that more accurately define the structure of the universe since its inception, when it was only 380,000 years old.
On the part of the map that touched the universe six billion years ago, researchers observed the oldest and reddest galaxies.
For more distant eras, they concentrated on the youngest galaxies – blue. To go even further, they used quasars, galaxies whose central region is extremely bright.
The map shows that the expansion of the Universe at some point began to accelerate and has continued to do so since then.
The researchers say this is due to the presence of dark energy, which fits into Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but that scientists cannot explain.
For years, astrophysicists knew that the universe was expanding, but could not accurately measure the rate of expansion.
Comparisons of eBOSS observations with previous studies of the early Universe have revealed discrepancies in estimates of the expansion rate.
The current expansion rate, called the “Hubble constant,” is 10 percent slower than the value calculated from the distances between the nearest galaxies.
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