3-D Map Adds Light Years to Concept of Universe

Survey used red shift to find relative distances of heavenly bodies
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2008 5:00 PM CDT
This photo, released by NASA shows part of NGC 253, one of brightest spiral galaxies in the night sky, easily visible with small telescopes, which is composed of thousands of young, blue stars.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Telescope photographs of the night sky are compelling, but it’s hard to get a feel for the heavens when you’re Earthbound. The recently completed Sloan Digital Sky Survey can help: It is a 3-D map of the area within 2 billion light years of Earth that allows the user to move through space as if by flying saucer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Constructed from high-res digital telescope photos, the Sloan team used the red shift of stars and galaxies—an increase in the amount of red in the light an object emits that indicates its distance from earth—to find the relative distances necessary to give the map depth. The most distant quasar ever found and a “Great Wall” of clustered galaxies are among the discoveries made with Sloan data.