Ever want to fly through the universe in your own starship seeing all of the wonders of creation in a glance? Well sorry, until Virgin Galactic expands their business model you’re out of luck. But now through the use of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) you can at least feel like you’re zooming through the cosmos like Captain Kirk from the comfort of your own home. Those aren’t stars you are zooming past though, those are over 400,000 galaxies.
According to the Huffington Post, the data taken from the SDSS and BOSS were used to create the largest map ever of massive galaxies and black holes in our universe. The BOSS’s mission is to determine the pattern and expansion rate of the universe by measuring the acoustics of the early universe. But hold on, there’s no sound in space, right? Right, there isn’t any sound in vacuum, but what the BOSS does is measure ripples in the cosmic background radiation like ripples on the surface of a pond that over time have gone on to shape the distribution of matter in the universe. So just like variations in air pressure make sound, the variations in the density of the cosmic soup that resulted from the Big Bang make our universe what it is today.
It is the hope of the BOSS and SDSS teams that the information they get from this huge 3d map will help them in their search for the source of dark matter and dark energy, the biggest problem in modern astrophysics that happens to make up 96% of our universe. The map was released to the public so that everyone can make use of the new data and will soon be included in the citizen science project Galaxy Zoo.