Astrophysicists have published the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, which is the result of an analysis of more than 4 million galaxies and quasars.
The efforts of hundreds of scientists from about 30 institutes around the world have provided “a complete history of the expansion of the universe,” says co-author Will Percival of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
In the project, which began more than two decades ago, the researchers made “the most accurate measurements in the history of expansion in the widest range of space-time.” The map is based on the latest observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, with data collected from an optical telescope in New Mexico over six years.
The map shows that the expansion of the Universe began to accelerate at some point, and has continued this way ever since. The researchers say this is due to the presence of dark energy, an invisible element that fits into Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but whose origin is still unclear.