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"For Starships of the Future" --Astronomers Map Supermassive Black Holes in the Distant Universe

19 May 2017, 17:03 UTC
"For Starships of the Future" --Astronomers Map Supermassive Black Holes in the Distant Universe
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have constructed the first map of the universe based on the positions of supermassive black holes, which reveals the large-scale structure of the universe and precisely measures the expansion history of the universe back to when the universe was less than three billion years old. It will help improve our understanding of 'Dark Energy', the unknown process that is causing the universe's expansion to speed up.
As part of the SDSS Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), scientists measured the positions of quasars - extremely bright discs of matter swirling around supermassive black holes at the centres of distant galaxies. The light reaching us from these objects left at a time when the universe was between three and seven billion years old, long before the Earth even existed.
Shown below is the largest three-dimensional map of the universe. Earth is at the left, and distances to galaxies and quasars are labelled by the lookback time to the objects (lookback time means how long the light from an object has been travelling to reach us here on Earth). The locations of quasars (galaxies with supermassive black holes) are shown by the red dots, ...

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