The Curiosity rover's Mars landing has everyone paying attention to the cosmos. Which means there's no better time for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III to release its latest collection of space cartography.
Dryly titled "Data Release 9," SDSS-III's latest collection of deep-space imagery takes the crown as the largest 3D map of the universe in existence. Data Release 9 was made using a 2.5-mete wide-angle telescope located at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. The images were captured using a sort of time-delay system that snaps the sky as Earth rotates.
The video above displays only the first two years of the SDSS-III's six-year project, and to let them tell it, this is just the beginning. Researchers at SDSS-III say that eventually the map will "eventually measure the positions of 1.5 million massive galaxies over the past seven billion years of cosmic time, as well as 160,000 quasars-giant black holes actively feeding on stars and gas-from as long ago as 12 billion years in the past."