With their knowledge, Brice Ménard, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, has developed a map of the observable universe. In an interactive web, you will be able to explore from our point in the wide space void, passing through millions of distant galaxies and different in compositionuntil reaching the barrier that separates us from the rest of the universe: the observable limit.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is shown to us in a small, almost invisible dot at the bottom of the screen. This pixel opens up in the shape of a cone, showing us the corners of the universe that we already “know”, and those that we haven’t even gotten a first glimpse of. As you scroll, you will see how the colors change; but even better: the textures of the universe.
Yes, between spiral and elliptical galaxies, this texture is much more noticeable. Squinting your eyes you can see how a kind of mesh made up of millions of points (each one a different galaxy) is drawn. A homogeneous and impressive fabricand that only demonstrates the uniformity of the universe in all its directions.
The structure of the universe visible on a map that you can see on your phone
Among the galaxies that we can observe in the diagram built by Brice Ménard, we have the spirals, a category that includes the Milky Way. Andromeda, another larger one on the way to collide with ours, is also in this same category. As we move, we see how the color changes from light blue to yellowexposing elliptical galaxies whose color is usually yellower and brighter than spiral variants.
Farther away, we have redshifted galaxies. As the universe expands between these celestial bodies, photons are stretched during their journey through space. This causes them, at a certain point, to pass into the infrared spectrum of light, something that happens to the elliptical galaxies furthest away from us. At their distance, their light appears to be red.
Unfortunately, redshifted spiral galaxies cannot be detected with current equipment, since they have much dimmer illumination than elliptical galaxies. This makes the filamentary structure that makes up the universe more difficult to perceive at this point on the map; although it still is.
The last observable bastion
Beyond, we have quasars. They are mysterious massive black holes located in the center of some galactic bodies. Thanks to the accumulations of gas and stars around it, these quasars get extremely brightso its light can reach all corners of the visible universe, with a rather bluish hue.
almost last place we have redshifted quasars. As with galaxies, the light from quasars is also affected by the constantly expanding universe. Blue photons from quasars are stretched to such an extent that they pass into the infrared spectrum. Beyond, we find a stage of the universe filled with hydrogen gas, preventing the propagation of visible light, so we cannot observe it. This stage is called “Dark Age”, for obvious reasons.
At the last bastion: the edge of the observable universe. So far from us that projects the first flashes of light emitted after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago. This light has stretched throughout the universe, and is what we now know as the cosmic microwave background, and with which we can determine what the first hundreds of thousands of years of life in the universe were like.