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Astronomers Create First and Biggest Large Scale-Map of the Universe, Quasars Based on Supermassive Black Holes

May 23, 2017 11:44 AM EDT
Spiral Galaxy
Astronomers created the first and largest large-scale three dimensional map of the universe. To do that, they used quasars as reference points.
(Photo : Fox Photos / Stringer/Getty Images)

In order to track progress when it comes to the understanding of the universe, maps are usually used. It has then become a challenge for experts to create the most comprehensive maps ever made. Recently, astronomers unveiled the large-scale map of the universe said to be the biggest ever made.

Reports say that it is the first and largest map showcasing the three-dimensional large-scale structure of the universe. It is based on the positioning of quasars, which are distant and bright lights powered by supermassive black holes.

The quasars are used because astronomers believe that they are the ideal reference points in making the biggest large-scale map of the universe. Their brightness and visibility are what made them vital for the map.

"Because quasars are so bright, we can see them all the way across the universe," said Ashley Ross from the Ohio State University said in a statement. "That makes them the ideal objects to use to make the biggest map yet."

There are supermassive black holes found in the middle of quasars that then illuminate them. Some specially designed telescopes on Earth are capable of detecting the brightness from quasars.

"These quasars are so far away that their light left them when the universe was between three and seven billion years old, long before the Earth even existed," Gongbo Zhao from the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

In order to complete the map, astronomers used the Sloan Foundation Telescope. The instrument was used to observed a large number of quasars. In total, they measure accurate positions of more than 147,000 quasars during the first two years of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey's Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBoss).

The data from observations are used to create large-scale three-dimensional map showcasing the location of quasars that composed the largest map of the universe. Creating the map is one but understanding and analyzing them requires another different process or processes.

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