Google Sky Gains Galaxy Cluster Data

Google Sky Gains Galaxy Cluster Data


Posted: 01 Nov 2010 09:10 PM PDT

A new way to study the depths of the universe could herald a revolution in 

Use Google Earth in sky mode and you immediately gain access to an 
impressive set of images of the universe. Animations show the movement of 
the planets across the sky and there is an option to superimpose images 
from the Hubble Space Telescope over the relevant regions of the cosmos.

All in all, an impressive experience. But there's still room for 
improvement, say Jiangang Hao and James Annis at the Fermi National 
Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia. They point out that Google uses low 
resolution images of the night sky to improve the speed at which they load. 
The result is that Google Sky shows only a small fraction of the galaxy 
clusters that have been photographed to date.

To set this wrong to rights, Hao and Annis have converted the high 
resolution images of a section of the night sky into the Keyhole Markup 
Language (.KML files) which anyone can download and view using Google Sky. 
Hao and Annis have used images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey showing 
galaxies with a redshift of up to 1. In other words, from a time when the 
universe was half the size it is now. All you have to do is download them 
(all the links and instructions are in the paper linked to below).

Hao and Annis provide the images at three levels of resolution so you can 
choose the size of the files you want to download. The extra detail is 
significant and Google Sky allows you to fly across the galaxy clusters 
(although not through them in 3D).

The question now is what this new representation of the data allows that 
hasn't yet been done. A couple of months ago we looked at the way open 
source and free software is being used to spot new impact craters on Earth 
using Google Maps. There's no reason why image processing software and 
some  innovative number crunching won't pay out in silver dollars for 
anyone willing to invest the time and brainpower in galaxy clusters.

The exciting potential of this work is that it democratises astronomy:  
anyone, anywhere on the planet can have a go. That represents an awful lot 
of potential brainpower.

Have fun!

Ref: : Flying Across Galaxy Clusters With Google 
Earth: Additional Imagery From SDSS Co-Added Data



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