Peering back in time more than 7 billion years, a team of astronomers using a powerful new spectrograph at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii has obtained the first maps showing the distribution of galaxies in the early universe. The maps show the clustering of galaxies into a variety of large-scale structures, including long filaments, empty voids, and dense groups and clusters.
These maps are among the first results from the DEEP2 Redshift Survey, an ongoing three-year project designed to study galaxies in the distant universe over a volume comparable to recent surveys of the local universe. Using the new DEIMOS (Deep Extragalactic Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph) instrument at the 10-meter Keck II Telescope, this project is measuring the properties of distant galaxies as well as mapping out their distribution in space. DEIMOS, which was built precisely for this survey, allows simultaneous, detailed observations of up to 150 galaxies at a time. By studying galaxies whose light has taken billions of years to reach the Earth, the astronomers are effectively looking far back in time.
"For the first time, we are getting a map of the universe as it was 7 billion years ago, when it was roughly half the age it is now. Comparing these observations with local surveys will yield direct clues to some of the most profound mysteries of the universe, such as the nature of dark matter, the nature of dark energy, and the origins of galaxies and quasars," said David Koo, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
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