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Galaxy distribution

To determine the distribution of galaxies in three-dimensional space, astronomers have to measure their positions and their redshifts. The larger the volume of space surveyed, the more likely the measurement is a fair sample of the universe as a whole. However, the work involved increases very rapidly as you increase the volume covered by the survey.

Let’s do a quick calculation to see why this is so.

Suppose that you have completed a survey of all the galaxies within 30 million light-years and you now want to survey to 60 million light-years. What volume of space is covered by your second survey? How much larger is this volume than the volume of your first survey? Remember that the volume of a sphere, V , is given by the formula V = 4/3π R 3 , where R is the radius of the sphere.

Solution

Since the volume of a sphere depends on R 3 and the second survey reaches twice as far in distance, it will cover a volume that is 2 3 = 8 times larger. The total volume covered by the second survey will be (4/3)π × (60 million light-years) 3 = 9 × 10 23 light-years 3 .

Check your learning

Suppose you now want to expand your survey to 90 million light-years. What volume of space is covered, and how much larger is it than the volume of the second survey?

Answer:

The total volume covered is (4/3)π × (90 million light-years) 3 = 3.05 × 10 24 light-years 3 . The survey reaches 3 times as far in distance, so it will cover a volume that is 3 3 = 27 times larger.

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Even larger, more sensitive telescopes and surveys are currently being designed and built to peer farther and farther out in space and back in time. The new 50-meter Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile can detect far-infrared and millimeter-wave radiation from massive starbursting galaxies at redshifts and thus distances more than 90% of the way back to the Big Bang. These cannot be observed with visible light because their star formation regions are wrapped in clouds of thick dust. And in 2018, the 6.5-meter-diameter James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch. It will be the first new major visible light and near-infrared telescope in space since Hubble was launched more than 25 years earlier. One of the major goals of this telescope is to observe directly the light of the first galaxies and even the first stars to shine, less than half a billion years after the Big Bang.

At this point, if you have been thinking about our discussions of the expanding universe in Galaxies , you may be wondering what exactly in [link] is expanding. We know that the galaxies and clusters of galaxies are held together by their gravity and do not expand as the universe does. However, the voids do grow larger and the filaments move farther apart as space stretches (see The Big Bang ).

Astronomy and technology: the sloan digital sky survey

In Edwin Hubble’s day, spectra of galaxies had to be taken one at a time. The faint light of a distant galaxy gathered by a large telescope was put through a slit, and then a spectrometer (also called a spectrograph) was used to separate the colors and record the spectrum. This was a laborious process, ill suited to the demands of making large-scale maps that require the redshifts of many thousands of galaxies.

But new technology has come to the rescue of astronomers who seek three-dimensional maps of the universe of galaxies. One ambitious survey of the sky was produced using a special telescope, camera, and spectrograph atop the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. Called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), after the foundation that provided a large part of the funding, the program used a 2.5-meter telescope (about the same aperture as the Hubble) as a wide-angle astronomical camera. During a mapping program lasting more than ten years, astronomers used the SDSS’s 30 charge-coupled devices (CCDs)—sensitive electronic light detectors similar to those used in many digital cameras and cell phones—to take images of over 500 million objects and spectra of over 3 million, covering more than one-quarter of the celestial sphere. Like many large projects in modern science, the Sloan Survey involved scientists and engineers from many different institutions, ranging from universities to national laboratories.

Every clear night for more than a decade, astronomers used the instrument to make images recording the position and brightness of celestial objects in long strips of the sky. The information in each strip was digitally recorded and preserved for future generations. When the seeing (recall this term from Astronomical Instruments ) was only adequate, the telescope was used for taking spectra of galaxies and quasars—but it did so for up to 640 objects at a time .

The key to the success of the project was a series of optical fibers , thin tubes of flexible glass that can transmit light from a source to the CCD that then records the spectrum. After taking images of a part of the sky and identifying which objects are galaxies, project scientists drilled an aluminum plate with holes for attaching fibers at the location of each galaxy. The telescope was then pointed at the right section of the sky, and the fibers led the light of each galaxy to the spectrometer for individual recording ( [link] ).

Sloan digital sky survey.

Panel (a), at left, shows the open aperture of the SDSS telescope in New Mexico. The primary mirror is clearly seen at the base of the telescope. Panel (b), at right, shows Richard Kron inserting optical fibers into a pre-drilled plate in preparation for taking the spectra of many galaxies simultaneously.
(a) The Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope is seen here in front of the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico. (b) Astronomer Richard Kron inserts some of the optical fibers into the pre-drilled plate to enable the instruments to make many spectra of galaxies at the same time. (credit a, b: modification of work by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

About an hour was sufficient for each set of spectra, and the pre-drilled aluminum plates could be switched quickly. Thus, it was possible to take as many as 5000 spectra in one night (provided the weather was good enough).

The galaxy survey led to a more comprehensive map of the sky than has ever before been possible, allowing astronomers to test their ideas about large-scale structure and the evolution of galaxies against an impressive array of real data.

The information recorded by the Sloan Survey staggers the imagination. The data came in at 8 megabytes per second (this means 8 million individual numbers or characters every second). Over the course of the project, scientists recorded over 15 terabytes, or 15 thousand billion bytes, which they estimate is comparable to the information contained in the Library of Congress. Organizing and sorting this volume of data and extracting the useful scientific results it contains is a formidable challenge, even in our information age. Like many other fields, astronomy has now entered an era of “Big Data,” requiring supercomputers and advanced computer algorithms to sift through all those terabytes of data efficiently.

One very successful solution to the challenge of dealing with such large datasets is to turn to “citizen science,” or crowd-sourcing, an approach the SDSS helped pioneer. The human eye is very good at recognizing subtle differences among shapes, such as between two different spiral galaxies, while computers often fail at such tasks. When Sloan project astronomers wanted to catalog the shapes of some of the millions of galaxies in their new images, they launched the “Galaxy Zoo” project: volunteers around the world were given a short training course online, then were provided with a few dozen galaxy images to classify by eye. The project was wildly successful, resulting in over 40 million galaxy classifications by more than 100,000 volunteers and the discovery of whole new types of galaxies.

Key concepts and summary

Counts of galaxies in various directions establish that the universe on the large scale is homogeneous and isotropic (the same everywhere and the same in all directions, apart from evolutionary changes with time). The sameness of the universe everywhere is referred to as the cosmological principle. Galaxies are grouped together in clusters. The Milky Way Galaxy is a member of the Local Group, which contains at least 54 member galaxies. Rich clusters (such as Virgo and Coma) contain thousands or tens of thousands of galaxies. Galaxy clusters often group together with other clusters to form large-scale structures called superclusters, which can extend over distances of several hundred million light-years. Clusters and superclusters are found in filamentary structures that are huge but fill only a small fraction of space. Most of space consists of large voids between superclusters, with nearly all galaxies confined to less than 10% of the total volume.

Questions & Answers

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
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Nisha
?
Nisha
Yes. Everything is possible.
Dark
replay
Nisha
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Nisha
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Nisha
replay
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?
Nisha
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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
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Asim
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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
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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
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Adam
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Adam
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Asim
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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
Does MIT have good astrophysics courses ?
priyanshu Reply
Probably The Best In The United States.....
Adam
But Don't Get Caught Up On Who's The Best, You Can Be The Next Noble Winning Astrophysicist.....
Adam
hmmm..........that's nice one....Adam had said.....
Gospel
How did ASTRONOMY helped you understand yourself ? 🤔
Hussain Reply
why do you want to study ASTRONOMY?
Hussain Reply
It is one of the natural sciences and therefore worth exploring. You are a part of the universe and it is a part of you. The sky is my classroom. (student of cosmology, Oxford Uni)
SuperNova
because everything in the space is just beautiful...interesting and worth studying and exploring...
Memo
I have been studying astrophysics an love it
Carla
I love to learn what makes up our lives an heavens an how it works there us so much more out there than books an our veiw of thw heavens can reveal
Carla
How did ASTRONOMY helped you understand yourself ?
Hussain
Because it proves the impossibles and the limitless.
Dark
It helped me realize that there are like countless possibilities in life and get all through it.
Dark
It honestly showed me to view the world in a balanced way. Because space beautiful and calm yet violent, and so is the world, and we should still help, but there will always be violent people much like violent astrophysical jets.
Da
What does ASTRONOMY means?
Hussain
Does anyone know where can I study astronomy in Spain? My budget is too low for traveling out there...
Valerian Reply
How long the duration was when the laws of physics became active after the big bang?And why the time is called plank's time?
Mostak Reply
how many galaxies in universe?
Shaikh Reply
10 to the power 11
Wwe
testing
Ahmad
thnx
Shaikh
if u can count all the sands on the beaches and on the deserts then u will know how much it will be.......some said more than 1,000,000,000 galaxies are there in our universe...
Gospel
it's ok bro
Wwe
I hope you will become a member of nasa
Wwe
just new in this area, from art background not science
Ahmad
what's ur name wwe
Shaikh
The Observable Universe Contains Between 200 Billion To 2 Trillion Galaxies.....
Adam
are u sure?
Caleb
It actually hasn't been proven, people have just made estimations.
Ariana
the thing is u can't count,maybe the our number system will collapse there...who knows?
Abdullah
What's the exact time when the laws of physics became active after the big bang ?
Mostak
Actually we still don't know the exact number of galaxies in the universe, since the universe is bigger than we can imagine and it is still expanding even bigger today than yesterday
Ismaee
we didn't actually find the exact number but may be it is around 100 billion
Smridhi
why this universe is expanding?
ATUL
Science Does Not Concern It Self With Why Questions, Science Is Geared For How And What Questions.....
Adam
Why Questions Form And Endless Loop.....
Adam
According to the universal law of cause and effect .any phenomenon that occur in this universe should have any reason , nothing happen without any reason.
ATUL
Can you tell me the expanding speed of this universe.
ATUL
yes that would be a great question to have answered what is the expanding speed of the universe?
Daijahrel
Remember that most of what you can see is light years away. We're looking back in time, we can never know the current nature of our observations, only glimpse the galaxies and stars as they once were. Strange but true, and a little sad.
SuperNova
Correct, That's Why Telescopes Are Like Time Machines, You See The Past.....
Adam
really telescope can see the past?....i meant everything is in its place, though it rotates or revolve or whatever it is.......but how can this telescope can see the past.....can we see how our Universe was created,how it formed out of it? thats my question to all of you guys can you plz tell me.
Gospel
Because We Dont See Any Object In Space As It Is, We See It As It Was..... Hope This Clears That Up For You.....
Adam
And One Day We Might Have A Telescope That Will Show Us The Big Bang.....
Adam
ok....... that will be nice one
Gospel
ok....... that will be nice one
Gospel
Travel at light speed in a spaceship at 186,000 miles every SECOND. At this speed it will take you 100,000 years just to cross our Milky Way galaxy, which is just a dot in the sky. Next stop, the Andromeda galaxy, after 2.5 million years, still in the Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, still a dot.
SuperNova
Pretty Much.....
Adam
there are nearly 200 million I suppose.
Amit
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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