The astronomical map you see here doesn’t depict stars, it shows galaxies—1.2 million of them, to be exact, a new record for astronomers. This extraordinary new 3D scan of the universe provides yet more evidence that a mysterious substance known as dark energy is likely causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.
The map encompasses 650 cubic billion light-years of space—about a quarter of the sky—and required the work of hundreds of scientists from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS). BOSS is a program within the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) that measures the sound waves of the early universe, which left faint imprints on the cosmic background radiation—the “afterglow,” as it were, of the Big Bang. They also left their imprints on the distribution of galaxies, which is what BOSS is using to map the positions and distances of galaxies back through time.