08/09/2012 12:12 pm ET

3D Map Of Universe: Galaxies, Black Holes Feature In Dazzling Sloan Digital Sky Survey VIDEO

Want to take a flight through the universe? A new animated map charts the black holes and nearly 400,000 galaxies in our universe, using the latest data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) as its guide.

Besides being astronomically awesome, the map aims to help scientists better understand the dark matter and dark energy that makes up 96 percent of the universe, according to the SDSS.

“By the time BOSS is complete, we will have surveyed more of the sky, out to a distance twice as deep, for a volume more than five times greater than SDSS has surveyed before – a larger volume of the universe than all previous spectroscopic surveys combined," David Schlegel of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory an astrophysicist and BOSS’s principal investigator said in a written statement.

BOSS has been specifically designed to measure what scientists call baryon acoustic oscillation (BAO), "the large-scale clustering of matter in the universe." BAO has existed since the early universe, so it can be measured to give precise information on how long and how fast the universe is expanding--this gives BOSS greater potential to calculate farther distances within the universe.

"BOSS contributes a huge information increase for all kinds of scientific investigations, from quasars to how stars evolve to really odd objects like galaxy-scale strong gravitational lenses," Schlegel said.

The above animated video clip was made by Miguel Aragon of Johns Hopkins University with Mark Subbarao of the Adler Planetarium and Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins University. For high resolution, click the "change quality" button along the bottom of the video.


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