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Map of Universe accurate to 1% offers insight into dark energy and the curvature of spacetime
Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:25

Astronomers have completed a new survey of the Universe, calculating the distances between galaxies to an “unprecedented accuracy” of just one per cent.

The ultraprecise measurements will provide astronomers with the most important map of the universe to date and it is hoped they will shed light on dark energy – the mysterious force that is thought to comprise nearly three quarters of the universe.

The locations of 1.2 million galaxies were mapped over distances of more than 6 billion light-years as part of project BOSS (the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey), the largest of four cosmological surveys currently underway on the Sloan Foundation Telescope in the US.

"There are not many things in our daily lives that we know to one-per cent accuracy," said David Schlegel, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the principal investigator of BOSS. "I now know the size of the Universe better than I know the size of my house."

Previous maps accurate to one per cent (this means that if you measured a distance of 100 miles you would be accurate to within a single mile) have only managed to pinpoint the location of the few hundred stars closest to Earth, all of which are contained within our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

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