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Galaxy maps. The beginning of the universe. Arrow of time…


Mapping the cosmos sounds like a daunting challenge, but now an international team of astronomers has managed to do just that. Using a powerful new computer algorithm and observational data from one of the world’s biggest telescopes, the astronomers have created a luminous 3D map of the universe as it was just 3 billion years after the Big Bang (the universe is now 13.8 billion years old).

The astronomical equivalent of a medical CT scan, the so-called “Lyman-alpha tomographic” map gives an unprecedented look at the cosmic web — the vast galaxy-containing filaments that form the backbone of the universe.

To create the map, the team — led by Dr. Khee-Gan Lee of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astronomy — pointed the 10-meter Keck I telescope atop Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on a portion of the sky equivalent to one-tenth of the full moon. The telescope picked up light from galaxies more than 15 billion times fainter than the faintest stars visible to the naked eye, according to a written statement issued by the institute. The team will use the map to search for ‘galaxy protoclusters,’ which are the ancestors of the huge galaxy clusters we see in the Local Universe. (1)

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The past dictates the future.
The future dictates the past.

Cosmic clusters define the shape of the universe.
Giant galaxy clusters define the protoclusters in the beginning of the cosmos.

Turn the arrow of time as you wish.
And see a different story.
Remove the arrow of time completely.
And see the cosmos as it is.

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