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Astronomers Create the Largest Map of the Universe

What exactly is dark energy – that is the question? Dark energy was first proposed some years ago to account for the accelerated rate of expansion of the Universe – and yet we still don’t know what it is. Edwin Hubble showed that the Universe was expanding and then in the late 90s a team of astronomers were analyzing observations of supernovae to deduce the fate of the Universe and found that the expansion rate was not slowing down and instead was accelerating! They were subsequently awarded the Nobel prize for their discovery. However, it should be noted that a team of astronomers from Oxford University recently found evidence contrary to this .

What is clear, is that we still don’t know what dark energy is, although there have been some suggestions.

In the hope of further understanding the expansion history of the Universe and the source of dark energy, a team of astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey have created the largest 3D map ever. Maps of the universe are usually made through the detection of specific frequencies of light, however this map is made from sound waves, specifically baryonic acoustic oscillations that travelled through the early universe and reveal the position of quasars – the disks of material around super massive black holes. The quasars in the study were formed at the perfect epoch to study the expansion history of the Universe, thus not only giving us the largest 3D map but potentially the most accurate.


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