Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2010 January 20

The Known Universe
Credit & Copyright: American Museum of Natural History

Explanation: What would it look like to travel across the known universe? To help humanity visualize this, the American Museum of Natural History has produced a modern movie featuring many visual highlights of such a trip. The video starts in Earth's Himalayan Mountains and then dramatically zooms out, showing the orbits of Earth's satellites, the Sun, the Solar System, the extent of humanities first radio signals, the Milky Way Galaxy, galaxies nearby, distant galaxies, and quasars. As the distant surface of the microwave background is finally reached, radiation is depicted that was emitted billions of light years away and less than one million years after the Big Bang. Frequently using the Digital Universe Atlas, every object in the video has been rendered to scale given the best scientific research in 2009, when the video was produced. The film has similarities to the famous Powers of Ten video that has been a favorite of many space enthusiasts for a generation.

Tomorrow's picture: dusty galaxy group

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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