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Map of the universe revealed

image: Nasa

image: Nasa

Given that most distant object yet observed by modern astronomy is a quasar about 250,000 billion billion kilometres away, creating a map of the observable universe is the ultimate challenge of scale. But Richard Gott has found a solution to the problem and the results will be published as a pull-out map in the latest edition of New Scientist.

Thrilled by recent advances in astronomy, Gott set out to make a map showing everything in the observable universe. Data wasn't the problem - size was. Gott realised that if he shrank such an enormous distance to fit on a single page, the entire Milky Way would be crammed into a dot smaller than a speck of dust. On the other hand, if he drew our galaxy to fit on a piece of foolscap, he'd need another 300 kilometres of paper to show the most distant quasar.

He's now found a solution and NewScientist is publishing the results in a pull-out map at the centre of the latest issue.

Imagine yourself standing on the equator for 24 hours; the map shows every significant object that will come into your line of sight, from horizon to horizon, right out to the distant edge of space and time.

Even though it is only a slice through the universe, it contains an impressive list of objects: 8420 satellites; 14,183 asteroids; 3386 stars and 126,625 galaxies.

It also shows the largest structure ever found in the universe: a wall of galaxies a staggering 1.4 billion light years long.

Image this page: NASA

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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