We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

92. Cosmology Gets the 3-D Treatment

Astronomers zero in the structure of our universe.

By Bill Andrews
Jan 16, 2013 11:48 PMNov 12, 2019 5:25 AM
hubble view.jpg
Dark matter is depicted in blue over a Hubble Space Telescope image of cluster MACS J0717.5+3745. | NASA


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

This year astronomers made great progress toward understanding our place in space, gaining a new sense of the three-dimensional structure of the universe around us.

In October a team led by Mathilde Jauzac at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille in France created a 3-D representation of an enormous filament of dark matter, the invisible substance that fills our universe and binds galaxies together. Some 60 million light-years in length, this thread funnels all kinds of matter—visible and not—from intergalactic space into a giant cluster of galaxies called MACS J0717.5+3745. Jauzac plotted the structure of the filament by studying how its gravity distorts passing light; that information will help trace the unseen dark component of the universe and explain how it interacts with the bright parts we see.

And three months earlier, the team running a huge cosmic cartography project called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III released a 3-D map that plots the location and velocity of 500,000 distant galaxies

as well as thousands of black holes. These new data will allow researchers to probe the history of the universe and study how dark matter—along with the strange expansive force known as dark energy—influences the evolution of the cosmos. The Sloan team plans to release even more detailed maps this year and next.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.