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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

something's like that maybe, the ways to know them
Dennis Reply
oh ok you can actually reply to your own comment by tapping it once
Tanmay
you should do this
Tanmay
what are laws of the universe
Dennis Reply
The law of attraction
Lambent
Are you talking about fundamental forces Dennis?
Tanmay
you can go to google and type 4 fundamental forces of the universe
Tanmay
let me give you gist of it there are 4 fundamental forces namely gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear
Tanmay
the came into being just after the bid bang
Tanmay
I mean big bang
Tanmay
you should watch this video for better understanding ***youtu.be/X9otDixAtFw
Tanmay
wow some more than information
Rajeshwari Reply
since space gets bigger dose it affect distance between the sun and earth
Swazi Reply
yes the distance between earth and sun increase at a rate of 15 cm per year
Tanmay
ohh really I didn't knew that , you learn something new everyday
NARUTO
true
Tanmay
thanks so much my friend
Youssef
Dear tanmay and other friends I want to ask that if both sun and earth are moving away from their center than why their inter relative distance is increasing rather squeezing taking in consideration of masses I am student so I apologize further and wanna guidance if possible
haseeb
The Earth does not get close to or “touch” the Sun because it is in orbit around the Sun. A circular orbit means that the orbiting body always stays the same distance from the thing it orbits. The Earth's orbit is nearly circular and keeps us about 93 million miles from it.
Konica
Konica nor the orbit can prevent our earth from getting closer (if it was coming closer) and nor is the orbit of earth nearly circular
Tanmay
And Haseeb can you make your question a little simple or something I didn't get it. What do you mean by moving away from their center?
Tanmay
And then comes your increasing rather than squeezing taking mass into consideration I never heard of that and I didn't understand that
Tanmay
Which formula are you using for that squeezing part?
Tanmay
What's difference between Astronomy and Astrophysics?
Gurjinder Reply
Actually astrophysics is one of the many branches of astronomy. It usually deals with the mathematical calculations of predicting the motions of heavenly bodies and also it studies the evolution of our universe by using physics.
Debabrata
So is there any observational astrophysics?
Gurjinder
Yes there are 2 types of astrophysicsist one is theoretical and other one is observational. I don't know about astrophysics though
Tanmay
Thanks
Gurjinder
welcome
Tanmay
😊
Gurjinder
Is there a way for us to find out that we are in a simulation or not?
Tanmay Reply
I think mathematics is a key
Arghyabindu
If we are in a simulation then I don't think that the super intelligent species which is controlling this simulation will give us any hint about how to know it.
Debabrata
There has to be some kind of bugs even a carefully designed app has some bugs in our world
Tanmay
Yeah.... There might be some loophole in their programme code.... And who knows.... We could find the bugs in a super massive black hole
Debabrata
But here we are talking about a very very very massive simulation by a very advanced species...... So they might ve already planned on how to deal with all the bugs and glitches
Debabrata
There's a really interesting theory that states even if we are in a simulation, it would be coded in such a way that as soon as one of us (a sentient being inside the simulation) had the slightest hint/evidence that we were in a simulation, the simulation would be edited to remove that information
ben
(I keep commenting on posts and they just dont post sometimes, does anyone else have this problem or should I just delete the app?)
ben
same happened to me but I see yours))
NARUTO
(ah well it must just be a little problem with the app, cheers for letting me know 🙌)
ben
(Well never happened to me though it takes some time to post large messages)
Tanmay
I saw a comment where he told that the universe is a game and finding it's nature is the level as soon as we find its nature the universe collapse and make another universe with more complex nature and this continues
Tanmay
(ahh that may be what it is actually because it is only the longer messages, thanks for letting us know)
ben
That was really a unique way of seeing the universe
Tanmay
Impractical way are there such as leaving your mortal body and entering to the astral body....cons of this idea is you can't tell us what you have saw or feel in that endemic confrontation
Arghyabindu
what a friend told me now
Arghyabindu
We are just a component of the universe trying to understand the other components of the universe...... So I guess that sometimes it makes the matter more and more complicated
Debabrata
what a friend told me now
Arghyabindu
Wait if we are in a simulation then does that means our future is predicted and we can't change it like some kind of rpg game
Tanmay
Yes IF we are in a simulation then definitely the future is already programmed..... But it may be in early access stage..... And the future might not be written at the moment.
Debabrata
so we can do time travel upto the point where our future is written
Tanmay
Maybe or may not be..... Depending on the script or program written in the simulation..... The intelligent species should be controlling every step we take and every thought that come into our mind.
Debabrata
Have you seen sword art online anime?
Tanmay
well never mind it's just repeated stuff
Tanmay
Nah.... I don't watch anime
Debabrata
ok
Tanmay
hii guyz
Lambent
Hey
Debabrata
BLM ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾
Laila
?
Kilten
thanks
Sahil
If we can simulate consciousness somehow, then there is a bright chance that we 'might' be living in a simulation all along.
Ganesh
which is the biggest star in the universe? if anyone know answer,please reply.
Ciffee Reply
which is the biggest star. ?
Ciffee
u y scuti
Sunidhi
sun
Konica
for our galaxy
Konica
Konica UY Scuti is the biggest Star ever observed and it's located in our galaxy.
Gurjinder
what are the branches of astronomy?
SCIENCE Reply
So there are literary many branches of astronomy like- Radio astronomy, Ultraviolet astronomy, X ray astronomy, etc. (just imagine the electromagnetic spectrum) There's also Astrophysics (My favorite), astro chemistry, astrobiology, astro geology, planetary science, astrometry
Debabrata
factors that contribute to the development of ancient astronomy to modern astronomy
Andrea Reply
When will be we found them?I am so waiting.
Everything Changes when Galileo Galilee observed Sky with a telescope. There's no doubt that ancient astronomers knows a lot of things about sky , but there observation was with naked eye. i wanna share some of the glimpse of Indian ancient astronomy:
Gurjinder
1.They know the difference between the Star and Planets at that time. 2. They know which star is multiple star system and their rotation with respect to each other. 3. They know the value of speed of light. And their are lots of things which they knows even without telescope.
Gurjinder
why is a supernova
pooja Reply
well there are different types of supernovas. there is a type 1a supernova and that happens when a white dwarf reaches the mass of 1.4 of the sun. A type 2 supernova is when a high mass star starts to fuse iron in the core and the star collapse then expands to create that supernova
PopularHellboy
what is time.!
Samyak Reply
92 billion light years
The
4th Dimension
The
time is illusion
Ciffee
Time is a way of describing an event happened in our 3D world
Tanmay
Why are the largest visible-light telescopes in the world made with mirrors rather than lenses?
Nibha Reply
What is a charge-coupled device (CCD), and how is it used in astronomy?
Nibha
Why is it difficult to observe at infrared wavelengths? What do astronomers do to address this difficulty?
Nibha
not sure what a CCD.
PopularHellboy
(also, lenses have are more problematic over larger distances due to the way different wavelengths of light act within glass. Red and blue light wavelength differs by about 300nm, and so the refraction will affect them differently, whereas when reflecting on a mirror, this is not a problem)
ben
hi
Zalka
i'm from Indonesian
Zalka
(I tried posting this before but this app doesn't seem to work properly) A CCD essentially works as a camera. It's made from an array of capacitors (which make up the 'pixels'). When an incident photon hits the 'pixel', the charge generated is measured and can be translated into an image we can view
ben
the reason mirrors are more common than lenses (on large scale telescopes) is because it is a lot easier and cheaper to make a parabolic mirror than it is to make a perfect glass lens
ben
Because Refracting Telescope cause Cromatic abberetion.
Tushar
Just reading along. I can't see the end of the page so commenting to move it up.
Eva
same. but mirrors are also made with great efficiency and calculation for trapping the light
Konica
How might Venus’ atmosphere have evolved to its present state through a runaway greenhouse effect?
Nibha Reply
what is synchrotron radiation
Nibha
I am 15 and I got interested in astronomy. Can anyone tell me the basics that I must know?
Vikky Reply
you can start by studying the theories of astronomy. there is light and the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. from there you learn about waves and how we as astronomers received information from space. then you can learn about the nebula hypothesis and also about our solar system
PopularHellboy
but if you learn about the foundation of light and the dually of nature with it and the Doppler effect, it will apply to most stuff in astronomy
PopularHellboy
heyy @populadHellboy can you tell me from where can I find this Light and The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation ? I mean is there any course ?
Sagar
I mean I learn astronomy in college with astronomy 101 and 102 I'm sure if you search online for YouTube videos or blogs they can help you with that. try crash course on YouTube for an introduction
PopularHellboy
Currently preparing for olympiad, is there any online resources for Astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology? If there's any past question papers i'll be delighted. I'm currently using Principle and Practice and Introduction To Modern Astrophysics..
Aditya
what is time
Sourav
how big is a parsec
David Reply
I believe it's about 3.086 x 10^16 meters. You can try converting 1 radian to 1 arc secs, multiply with 1 AU, convert it to meter.
Aditya
Its 31 trillion km
Asim
very big
Ciffee
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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