Sloan Digital Sky Survey

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) has released the largest-ever three-dimensional map of massive galaxies and distant black holes, which will help astronomers explain the mysterious “dark matter” and “dark energy” that scientists know makes up 96 percent of the Universe.

Early last year, the SDSS-III released the largest-ever image of the sky. With the new release of data, SDSS-III has begun to expand this image into a full three-dimensional map. A “fly-through” video is available below:

http://www.sdss3.org/press/dr9.php

Shown above is the open cluster, Messier 37. Located about 4,000 light years away, this group of stars is in the constellation Auriga. It is also among the older known open clusters known, and some of the brighter red stars in this image are evolved stars known as red giants. The numerous bluer stars are less massive stars that are still on the main sequence. Check out the SDSS image of the week gallery.

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