National Geographic

Animation: Fly Through Thousands of Galaxies in 3-D

When you watch the animation above, if you’re anything like me, two things will happen. First, you’ll start humming the Star Trek theme song (preferably not aloud), and second, you’ll be astonished by the enormity of this small slice of universe.

This recently released animation is a 3-D fly-through of what’s called the G15 field, mapped by the Galaxy and Mass Assembly survey project. Peering deep into the southern and equatorial skies, the project’s goal is to understand how galaxies are organized and how those shapes and structures evolve over cosmic timescales.

On large scales, galaxies tend to line up and form filaments. Those strands then twist themselves into an immense cosmic web. Between the strands are voids, or regions of mostly empty space. Or so we thought. Earlier this week, astronomers published a study describing a peculiar observation: Those voids have structures in them, too. They’re filled with delicate tendrils of galaxies (six, on average) that connect larger filaments to one another or to other voids. It’s the first time such small, stringy structures have been spotted, the team reported March 9 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Animation: Will Parr, Mark Swinbank and Peder Norberg/Vimeo. Constructed using data from GAMA and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the animation shows the real positions and images of the galaxies. Distances are to scale, but the galaxy images have been enlarged.

There are 35 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Steve
    March 14, 2014

    Nadia,

    Obviously, you’re young. We geezers are thinking of 2001, not Star Trek.

    Great to have you on the Phenomena team!

    • Nadia Drake
      March 22, 2014

      Thanks, Steve!

  2. Bastion
    March 16, 2014

    “Those strands then twist themselves into an immense cosmic web. Between the strands are voids, or regions of mostly empty space. Or so we thought. Earlier this week, astronomers published a study describing a peculiar observation: Those voids have structures in them, too.”
    But the article you link in says that previous work in 1993 and 2003 PREDICTED the presence of these structures. It’s just that another 10 years later technology allowed them to make observations that confirmed (or at least, pending further study, seem to confirm) the predictions.
    Your article seems to make out this observation as a surprise, while by my reading, it seems like it was exactly what makes science awesome: study, hypothesize, experiment, analyze…repeat!

  3. SB
    March 16, 2014

    @Steve, Space Odyssey was released two years after Star Trek first aired. Someone had to say it, and I’m not ashamed to be that nerd.

    This video is fantastic. It’s one thing to look at a static map of dots and quite another to fly through them. If you didn’t get a little dizzy watching this, that just means the scale of it didn’t sink in.

  4. Sarah
    March 22, 2014

    Bastion – I’m interested in your thoughts. Tweet me @SweetSarah1122. And don’t judge a book by its cover:)

  5. Tony P
    March 22, 2014

    What I don’t understand is this: I have heard the theory about the “stands” or “filaments” before. But ate they just using imaginary lines to make the filaments? Likeif they are looking at the stars in a galaxy you see dots essentially. So in order to see stands or filaments you would have to draw in lInes to “connect the dots” and then you can see the “filaments” in the overall picture. So.. Is that where these filaments come from our am I missing something else?

  6. Janette Hamilton
    March 22, 2014

    Wow wow wow. Thank you so so much for this it’s stunning, loved it.

    • Nadia Drake
      March 22, 2014

      You’re very welcome, Janette! Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Marcelo
    March 22, 2014

    I was wandering which would be my speed to Travel through the galaxy like this?

    • Nadia Drake
      March 22, 2014

      Hi Marcelo — These galaxies are very, very far apart. To see them all so quickly means you’d be traveling much faster than the speed of light. For comparison, our galaxy’s neighbor, Andromeda, is about 2.5 million light-years away (a light-year is about 9.5 trillion kilometers). So in other words, even if you were traveling at the speed of light, it would take you 2.5 million years to get there. Does that help?

  8. Carl M.
    March 24, 2014

    My thoughts were about how many civilizations were living on planets orbiting stars in each of those Galaxies! And realizing its so sad that we will never be able to contact them.

  9. Roger Brown
    March 24, 2014

    How fast would you be traveling if moving through this field of galaxies as shown. 10^3*C? 10^6*C? 10^9*C?

  10. Duane
    March 24, 2014

    Very beautiful.

  11. Oz
    March 24, 2014

    It’s one thing to have the knowledge of the fact that billions of galaxies are out there, it’s another to actually be able to visualize the amount of galaxies throughout the universe. An average galaxy is big, very big and each galaxy has billions of stars. There must be so many civilizations out there. So many aliens or humanlike beings. I am afraid of dying but having a better idea of how huge the universe is helps me understand the possibilites of life existing in other parts of the universe. Understanding how big the universe is and how many galaxies exist strengthens my belief that I will experience life again somewhere out there perhaps as a totally different being. Just my thoughts. Gives me hope.

  12. habib gulam
    March 24, 2014

    Thanks to update my knowledge and refresh my mind.

  13. habib gulam
    March 24, 2014

    thanks to update my knowledge an refresh my mind. It is hope that latest information will also be communicated in my Timeline.

  14. Rosa Roizen
    March 24, 2014

    Surpreendente! Magnífico, ,quantos adjetivos para conseguir falar sôbre o INFINITO! MÁGICO!

  15. John S.
    March 24, 2014

    I just keep on whistling the Dr. Who theme when I watch this ;)

  16. Tavo
    March 24, 2014

    I was humming the old Cosmos intro theme instead ^_^

  17. Jonathan
    March 24, 2014

    Honestly if you think about it, there’s a reason why we can’t physically get anywhere out there, obiously there are other planets and worlds magnificently different and amazing, thinking there isn’t would be very selfish. Our souls will reach galaxies we always seen when we die, I truly believe that!

  18. Pierre Gyselinck
    March 24, 2014

    Is our Galaxy among these shown?

  19. James Aemielius
    March 24, 2014

    “On large scales, galaxies tend to line up and form filaments. Those strands then twist themselves into an immense cosmic web. Between the strands are voids, or regions of mostly empty space. Or so we thought. ”

    You mean you they may be organized like stars are within the arms and gaps of a galaxy?

  20. Jonathan
    March 24, 2014

    I’m just a normal ordinary citizen of planet Earth, 51 years old. The immensity of the cosmos is almost nauseating and the continued arrogance of man to think this 3rd rock from one star is the only place life has either been created or developed, not the debate here, is astounding. I was 13 years old in Northern Kentucky when I saw a vehicle in the sky that human hands had no technology to build. Videos of the Universe such as this confirm my suspicions that we CANNOT be alone in the vastness of the night!

  21. Mohamed Taleb Agha
    March 24, 2014

    very Beautiful 3D Animation..

  22. Chris Moran
    March 24, 2014

    This is a bit deceptive. The galaxies would be dots at this scale. If you want to fly around in the galaxies yourself I would suggest downloading SpaceEngine (turn off procedural stars & galaxies). To get a better feeling for intergalactic structure and movement check this video out: http://vimeo.com/66641648.

  23. linda
    March 24, 2014

    Amazing but then I started seeing CANDY CRUSH bits popping up in my peripheal vision…

  24. Chris Moran
    March 24, 2014

    @Roger: More like 10^20c
    @Pierre: No, we are at the tip of the wedge looking out.
    @James: More like a web or a sponge http://www.sdss.org/includes/sideimages/sdss_pie2.html

  25. William Cash
    March 24, 2014

    Just think – that’s just a sliver of our view of the universe. A SLIVER.
    If we were to combine more of those wedges, think how mind-bogglingly huge this really and truly is.
    Suddenly I found myself singing Monty Python’s “The Galaxy Song.”

  26. arnold
    March 24, 2014

    Nice but my only complaint is that you are flying through these galaxies with a camera lens the 50x the size of one of the galaxies. A galaxy seems to hit the lens like a snowflake on a windshield. I think a great fly-through would be to go into that galaxy as it expands and shows you the stars and systems within it instead of hitting the lesn or zooming past.

  27. Robert
    March 24, 2014

    Watching this kind of videos always blows my mind and makes me realize how stupidly people behave on our little Earth. We are so small and irrelevant in the vast Universe, yet we fight each other and destroy our Planet. One more thing after watching this; does the popular question “Are we the only civilization out there?” sound so silly to you as it does to me?

  28. Someone that makes sense
    March 24, 2014

    First off
    Hiw are you guys so gullable?
    They can’t show you what each galaxy looks like because they don’t know.

    They randomly placed coloured objects on a screensaver type simulation.

    Anyone can do that

    Faith in humanity is lost

    We re all just a bunch of morons no wonder why aliens won’t talk to us

  29. Carlos
    March 24, 2014

    Mind is faster than light. If there are no space and time you can travel with it.

  30. Patrick O
    March 25, 2014

    Maybe dark energy is faster than light! Maybe dark energy is “light” thats exeeded its maximum “visible speed”. Now I wonder where I put that black hole….

  31. J.Bhuvanendra bhoopathy
    March 26, 2014

    Very excellent. A rare new experience..

  32. JoJo Owen
    April 7, 2014

    Soooooo AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

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