Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Atlas of The Universe

By Aussiegirl

This beautiful map, to quote from the fascinating web page I just found, is a plot of the 1500 most luminous stars within 250 light years. All of these stars are much more luminous than the Sun and most of them can be seen with the naked eye. About one third of the stars visible with the naked eye lie within 250 light years, even though this is only a tiny part of our galaxy. The web page, created by Richard Powell -- again quoting from the web page -- is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on this web page, each one approximately ten times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe. What follows is the description of each of the nine maps, but to see the maps themselves -- they are truly spectacular, and each one can be zoomed in and out for even more detail -- you must visit the web page. The ninth map is the visible universe, 14 billion light years from the Sun, and the feeling from looking at it can only be termed awe-inspiring.

An Atlas of The Universe

12.5 Light Years from the Sun
The Nearest Stars
The closest star to the Sun is only 7000 times further than the edge of our solar system. This map shows all of the stellar systems that lie within 12.5 light years from us.

250 Light Years from the Sun
The Solar Neighbourhood
A large proportion of the stars visible with the naked eye are within 250 light years. This map shows this tiny section of our galaxy that surrounds our Sun.

5 000 Light Years from the Sun
The Orion Arm
The local arm of our galaxy is called the Orion Arm. It is depicted here showing the millions of stars interspersed with clouds of interstellar gas.

50 000 Light Years from the Sun
The Milky Way Galaxy
Our galaxy is a loose spiral disc of two hundred billion stars rotating around a compact centre. This is a diagram showing the main features of the Galaxy.

500 000 Light Years from the Sun
The Satellite Galaxies
The Milky Way is surrounded by several dwarf galaxies slowly orbiting it in periods of billions of years. This map shows the nearest of these satellite galaxies.

5 Million Light Years from the Sun
The Local Group
The Milky Way is gravitationally bound to two other large spiral galaxies as well as dozens of dwarf galaxies. This local group of galaxies is illustrated here.

100 Million Light Years from the Sun
The Virgo Supercluster
The local group of galaxies is just one of many centred around the massive Virgo Cluster. Collectively, all of these groups and clusters form a unit known as the Virgo Supercluster shown here.

1 Billion Light Years from the Sun
The Neighbouring Superclusters
The distribution of galaxies in the universe is far from regular. They tend to clump together into huge supercluster formations. This map shows many of the superclusters within 1 billion light years of us.

14 Billion Light Years from the Sun
The Visible Universe
Although our knowledge of the large scale structure of the universe is incomplete, many large and small scale features are visible right out to the very edge of the visible universe. The entire universe is fairly uniform, as this map shows.


At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting indeed.

Always though, whenever I go to the country and look at the stars at night without the interference of city light, I am struck afresh with awe at our Creator's work. It baffles me how anyone can look at that and say there is no God.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger The Tetrast said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger The Tetrast said...

Well, it almost worked. "white" should have left-aligned with "and black, and" above it.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger The Tetrast said...

Then I also found a typo. Here I've got it right! One more time:

As a kid (early 1960s) I had a book Cosmic View with the same idea, starting from the everyday scale and moving outward toward the universe as a whole -- then starting again at the everyday scale and moving inward to the smallest known scale.

The pictures were not photographs and only those at or near everyday scales were in color. Most were black & white. It gave a certain odd feeling to the world.

The color of a pass
              black and white, so is

the color of the world, break
our heads and make our voices

hoarse as we will
in denying it.

              Black and white,
              7 and 11

hell is black and heaven
white, the models
for the world we live in.

Birds fly, beetles fly,
birds and beetles borne on
thin winds lacking color, borne
miles to obscure ends, without

an argument the fact is
held and so accepted, black

and white, life
and death, eggs and dung
and procreation and the life

goes out in tiny heaps of dust:     where
        color is is
        in those places we
        have made within the

world, but they are
simply, places, the world passes
        hugely on each side, huge
        and black, and

-- "1. THE GUNNER" from "TWO FOR FRANZ KLINE," Black and White, Gilbert Sorrentino, 1964.

I hope I got the spacing to work!

Anyway, now they color the illustrations & photos of non-everyday-scale things.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger The Tetrast said...

Now it comes back to me, Cosmic View's introduction, in explanation of its general lack of color, said that the world was largely colorless (technically, "hueless"). That reinforced the cold feeling of the universe which the book's images inspired.

Well, that's all for the time being! :-)

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Thanks for the comments. Love that poem -- yes -- it's all one big schmear -- the world. Makes you feel the insignificance of your existence when you look at that night sky -- and also when you see these projections of where we exist on one tiny continuum from the quantum to the macro universe. And yet, somehow it is inescapably all an expression of one thing. I always love that quote from the Bible, even though I am not a scholar of that book. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"


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