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Superclusters and voids

After astronomers discovered clusters of galaxies, they naturally wondered whether there were still larger structures in the universe. Do clusters of galaxies gather together? To answer this question, we must be able to map large parts of the universe in three dimensions. We must know not only the position of each galaxy on the sky (that’s two dimensions) but also its distance from us (the third dimension).

This means we must be able to measure the redshift of each galaxy in our map. Taking a spectrum of each individual galaxy to do this is a much more time-consuming task than simply counting galaxies seen in different directions on the sky, as Hubble did. Today, astronomers have found ways to get the spectra of many galaxies in the same field of view (sometimes hundreds or even thousands at a time) to cut down the time it takes to finish their three-dimensional maps. Larger telescopes are also able to measure the redshifts—and therefore the distances—of much more distant galaxies and (again) to do so much more quickly than previously possible.

Another challenge astronomers faced in deciding how to go about constructing a map of the universe is similar to that confronted by the first team of explorers in a huge, uncharted territory on Earth. Since there is only one band of explorers and an enormous amount of land, they have to make choices about where to go first. One strategy might be to strike out in a straight line in order to get a sense of the terrain. They might, for example, cross some mostly empty prairies and then hit a dense forest. As they make their way through the forest, they learn how thick it is in the direction they are traveling, but not its width to their left or right. Then a river crosses their path; as they wade across, they can measure its width but learn nothing about its length. Still, as they go on in their straight line, they begin to get some sense of what the landscape is like and can make at least part of a map. Other explorers, striking out in other directions, will someday help fill in the remaining parts of that map.

Astronomers have traditionally had to make the same sort of choices. We cannot explore the universe in every direction to infinite “depth” or sensitivity: there are far too many galaxies and far too few telescopes to do the job. But we can pick a single direction or a small slice of the sky and start mapping the galaxies. Margaret Geller, the late John Huchra, and their students at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics pioneered this technique, and several other groups have extended their work to cover larger volumes of space.

Margaret geller: cosmic surveyor

Born in 1947, Margaret Geller is the daughter of a chemist who encouraged her interest in science and helped her visualize the three-dimensional structure of molecules as a child. (It was a skill that would later come in very handy for visualizing the three-dimensional structure of the universe.) She remembers being bored in elementary school, but she was encouraged to read on her own by her parents. Her recollections also include subtle messages from teachers that mathematics (her strong early interest) was not a field for girls, but she did not allow herself to be deterred.

Geller obtained a BA in physics from the University of California at Berkeley and became the second woman to receive a PhD in physics from Princeton. There, while working with James Peebles, one of the world’s leading cosmologists, she became interested in problems relating to the large-scale structure of the universe. In 1980, she accepted a research position at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, one of the nation’s most dynamic institutions for astronomy research. She saw that to make progress in understanding how galaxies and clusters are organized, a far more intensive series of surveys was required. Although it would not bear fruit for many years, Geller and her collaborators began the long, arduous task of mapping the galaxies ( [link] ).

Margaret geller.

Photograph of Margaret Geller.
Geller’s work mapping and researching galaxies has helped us to better understand the structure of the universe. (credit: modification of work by Massimo Ramella)

Her team was fortunate to be given access to a telescope that could be dedicated to their project, the 60-inch reflector on Mount Hopkins, near Tucson, Arizona, where they and their assistants took spectra to determine galaxy distances. To get a slice of the universe, they pointed their telescope at a predetermined position in the sky and then let the rotation of Earth bring new galaxies into their field of view. In this way, they measured the positions and redshifts of over 18,000 galaxies and made a wide range of interesting maps to display their data. Their surveys now include “slices” in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

As news of her important work spread beyond the community of astronomers, Geller received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1990. These fellowships, popularly called “genius awards,” are designed to recognize truly creative work in a wide range of fields. Geller continues to have a strong interest in visualization and has (with filmmaker Boyd Estus) made several award-winning videos explaining her work to nonscientists (one is titled So Many Galaxies . . . So Little Time ). She has appeared on a variety of national news and documentary programs, including the MacNeil / Lehrer NewsHour , The Astronomers , and The Infinite Voyage . Energetic and outspoken, she has given talks on her work to many audiences around the country, and works hard to find ways to explain the significance of her pioneering surveys to the public.

“It’s exciting to discover something that nobody’s seen before. [To be] one of the first three people to ever see that slice of the universe [was]sort of being like Columbus. . . . Nobody expected such a striking pattern!” —Margaret Geller

Questions & Answers

Where is a moon HOW MANY KILLOMETER FAR FROM EARTH
Guddi Reply
On Average 383,000 Kilometers, Between Perigee And Apogee.....
Adam
how many stars are there in the world
ZERO Reply
we can't count them because there are infinity no. of Star
YOG
but in night sky there are approximately 100 thousand million stars
YOG
Visually speaking, there's only one in the day and a few thousand in my Tellurian corner of the world at night. And some of those stars may even be galaxies, too far to properly discern as billions points of light. The longer you gaze into the skies the more they manifest themselves. Keep watching!
Jocofranc
why people go to other planet
Rehan Reply
to explore mysteries and also for some new resources and life form
YOG
Presumably to find an alternative for our earth, since our population has been increasing at a crazy rate and we'd slowly be running out of space here, if we'd continue. Another point would be the scientific value. Apart from testing our knowledge we always hope to find a new form of life.
creative
and in future when life from earth will vanished then to maintain our existance we need a new planet.
YOG
History shows our insatiable appetite for energy. The mass tends to congregate around developed communities where energy is readily accessible. It's inevitable we will be become exo-tellurians. Necessity fuels our explorations.
Jocofranc
👏 Well said! @jocofranc knight
Jennifer
what was before big bang
Manish Reply
The creator and their empire
Mahesh
Like ur answer but submitting a light-hearted suggestion of my own : Our universe a galactic-verse of many other billions that are clustered tightly together in a super-constellate. The Big Bang was the result of a magnetic wave originating from inside the constellate desrupting our serene corner.
Jocofranc
nice to here jocofranc, please explain what is before big bang
Mahesh
This increasingly hypothetical scenario suggest that the Big Bang was created when a superwave from this so-call Super-Constellate destabilized our dormant singularity. The wave was the catalyst. When this wave stops buckling our galactic-verse, it will recede back to a singularity. Ok it was God.
Jocofranc
how fast light travel around the earth
Starbuck Reply
lol
Videos
If you could travel at the speed of light, you could go around the planet 7.5 times in one second
Greg
how was moon formed
Kosi Reply
what is steral evolution (star evolution
meron Reply
hi
Nisha
when a star's mass changes over time
Joe
hi
Joe
hi
Lisette
Hii
Asim
hi
Nisha
what big bang
Nisha
yes joe over time chang star mass
Nisha
star prouduce nucluer fusion first stag ( hydroge fusion helium- carbon-neon-oxygen-silicon- last fusion iron hevy star mass not handle iron blast super nova
Nisha
what is the worm hole theory
Nisha Reply
it states that you can travel back through time by this. It's like folding a paper into half and making two points, and there states that you can bend spacetime but according to Einstein's equation that it can break easily and only really small particles can pass through it.
Dark
dark dream what is dark matter
Nisha
what is the great filter theory
Nisha
the great filter theory it's just like the literally filtering it says that when once a civilization achieved its highest state or let's say the highest technology for instance their civilization will end.
Dark
what is radio burst
Nisha
please answer
Nisha
what is the simulatin hypothies
Nisha
smart obsevatin
Nisha
In radio astronomy, a fast radio burst (FRB) is a transient radiopulse of length ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds, caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not yet identified. We can say that this can be they way to at least know if there's other civilizations~
Dark
~out there
Dark
Simulation hypothesis it proposes that the earth, the universe and the reality you are in is just an artificial simulation or like you are living in a computer simulation.
Dark
sir possible time travel
Nisha
?
Nisha
Yes. Everything is possible.
Dark
replay
Nisha
thanks
Nisha
sir how to make neutron star
Nisha
replay
Nisha
?
Nisha
sir what is the white hole?
Nisha
hi good morning
Nisha
why does the matter of an objects density change the fabric of space time rather than the objects volume..? (hopefully I have expressed that question properly) thanks
Daijahrel Reply
because an objects density consists of it's energy & momentum. an objects volume, for example a photon can have no density (hopefully I expressed that answer properly)
Joe
I suppose each Individual has his or hers different laws and assumptions, so it can be difficult to ask and answer physics questions, but discussions are always positive
Joe
how
Melaku
which matter use rocket
Nisha
Does their is any procedure of star making
Asim Reply
Hope That Helps.....
Adam
how to produce star and how to dead star?
Nisha
waad mahad santnihiin dhamaan waxaan doonayaa inaan wax ka barto astronomyga waa maxay xidigis?
Abdicaroog Reply
understanding astronomy
ricardo Reply
What About Understanding Astronomy?
Adam
yap
Janmarc
what is astronomy?
Janmarc
define..
Janmarc
Currently, I'm studying in 10th grade. What should I do after my 10th so that I can get an astronomy career?
Chaya Reply
try jee exam and achieve a good score in jee advance to join in IIST(Space research institute)
Sri
okay.. thanks
Chaya
Hey there I want to be an astrophysicist... and I'm grade 9... what should I do to be an astrophysicist
Aymen
Know more about space,watch movies related to space ,and to become an astrophysicist u should be very good in physics,train urself to think everything logically. Start to focus on JEE Exam ,train urself or join any institute which is good in coaching for JEE ,then if u score high ,u can join IIST
Sri
Which is the best university for Astronomy
Asim
Probably Massachusetts Institute Of Technology.....
Adam
Math Math Math, Get Familiar With All Types Of Math.....
Adam
Which subject is most important for Astronomy
Asim
Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, Trigonometry, Do Alot Of It And Often.....
Adam
I Can't Say It Enough, Math Is The Language Of The Cosmos.....
Adam
Adam you are in which university?
Asim
I Went To University But Never Finished My Degree..... Had To Work And Couldn't Afford School.....
Adam
MaryMount University..... Philosophy Of Science Major.....
Adam
It ia a cathloic University. Am i write
Asim
And its main campas is in Arlington country
Asim
No, It's In New York City.....
Adam
It's Not A Catholic University.....
Adam
Ohh sorry
Asim
Are you interested in Astronomy
Asim
IIT ain't so good for Pure Astronomy. If you want to know how the universe works,go for pure science. If you want to make spacecraft,go for Aerospace Engineering
priyanshu
Your are in which university brother
Asim
I Love Astronomy, I'm An Active Amateur Astronomer.....
Adam
I also love Astronomy very much
Asim
And to help me to solve some puzzling questions
Asim
this famous person was the first to recognise earthshine on the moin
Rajan Reply
Leonardo Da Vinci.....
Adam
what is string theory?
sakshi Reply
A Cosmological Theory Based On The Exsistence Of Cosmic Vibrating Strings.....
Adam
Good Morning Asim Ali.....
Adam
I Can't Do That, You Can Ask Me What Ever You Want.....
Adam
If you don't mind can i ask why?
Asim
Do You Understand The Millions Of People Have Access To This Site, I Wouldn't Put My Information Out There, Knowing What People With Bad Intent Can Do With Personal Information.....
Adam
Ohh sorry
Asim
My question is that, there are many collision of stars in a day So that cause black hole. But is there any procedure of star making? Hopefully i ask my question properly.
Asim
No Need To Apologize, I Will Answer Anything You Need Answered And If I Can't Answer It I Will Guide You To The Answer.....
Adam
Thier Is Only One Way Stars Are Made, Gravity Makes Matter Come Together, And When The Amount Of Matter Gets Massive Enough Nuclear Fusion Starts Up And A Star Is Born.....
Adam
What is white drawft?
Asim
A White Dwarf Is A Low Mass Star That Has Exhausted All It's Central Nuclear Fuel And Lost It's Outer Layers As A Planetary Nebula.....
Adam
what is the great filter theory
Nisha
hi adam what is great filter theory
Nisha
Well First It's Not A Theory, It's A Hypothesis, The Great Filter Hypothesis States That What Ever Causes Dead Matter To Under Go Abiogenesis(Start Of Life) Must Be Very Hard And Very Rare In Our Universe, Because So Far We Only See 1 Civilisation That Made Through All The Requirements For.....
Adam
Intelligent Life, So Far Only Our Planet Has Intelligent Life, That We Know Of, And Again This Is Only A Hypothesis, No Evidence Exist To Back This Up.....
Adam
hi adam sir
Nisha
Good Day.....
Adam
Good to see you sir
Asim
hi
Nisha
good day
Nisha
hi
Nisha
Same Here.....
Adam
What's The Good Word For The Day?
Adam
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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