Thursday, May 5, 2011

Largest 3-D Map Ever Opens Window to the Ancient Universe

The largest-ever three-dimensional map of the distant universe has been created using the light of the brightest objects in the cosmos. Since this distant light took eons to reach Earth, the map is essentially a window back in time, providing an unprecedented view of what the universe looked like 11 billion years ago. Normally, researchers make maps of the universe by looking at galaxies. By the time BOSS ends, "we will be able to measure how fast the universe was expanding 11 billion years ago with an accuracy of a couple of percent," said researcher Patrick McDonald of Lawrence Berkeley and Brookhaven National Laboratories, who pioneered techniques for measuring the universe with the Lyman-alpha forest and helped design the BOSS quasar survey. More>