A team of scientists has created a detailed map of our cosmic “neighborhood” extending nearly two billion lights years in every direction. This 3-D map showing galaxies in their superclusters will aid astrophysicists in better understanding how matter, including dark matter, is distributed in the universe.
According to a Science Daily report, the map indicates the relative concentration of galaxies in different areas, including the largest nearby supercluster called the Shapely Concentration, as well as less explored areas. The scientists found no sign of any pattern in the distribution of matter.
“The galaxy distribution isn’t uniform and has no pattern. It has peaks and valleys much like a mountain range. This is what we expect if the large-scale structure originates from quantum fluctuations in the early universe,” Mike Hudson of the University of Waterloo said in a statement.
The researchers hope that a more complete view of the placement and movement of matter will aid in forming predictions about the expansion of the universe. In particular, the team hopes to gain insight into the phenomenon of peculiar velocity – the differences in galactic movement caused by the unevenness in the expansion of the universe. It is thought that the non-uniform movement of galaxies is influenced by dark matter – a form of matter only indirectly detectable through its gravitational influence on light and visible matter.
“A better understanding of dark matter is central to understanding the formation of galaxies and the structures they live in, such as galaxy clusters, superclusters and voids,” said Hudson.
The team plans to continue expanding and detailing the map in collaboration with additional researchers. The team’s work was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.