Explore the universe through the wonders of your screen

interactive atlas
Photo: Allexxandar, Bigstock.

Australian astronomers have developed a new interactive atlas that allows you to travel through the skies with your feet on the ground.

Fifteen months of shooting has turned into the most detailed map of the universe to date, with over 70,000 ultra-high resolution images creating an opportunity for the public to immerse themselves in the mysterious galaxy.

Astronomers aimed to build a digital map, which would work as a reference place for the future. People will be able to use it to identify objects they see in the sky and compare their findings to recognize brand-new discoveries.

SkyMapper

The groundbreaking map was developed using a telescope specifically built for the project. SkyMapper is based at the Siding Spring Observatory and has achieved astonishing results so far.

The telescope conveys resolution outcomes that far exceed that of a top-end professional camera. Enormous images are captured using close to a 270 megapixel camera, understandably delivering incredible detail.

The individual images taken amalgamate to form a cohesive map of the sky, with users able to navigate their way through almost 300 million galaxies and stars. People can zoom in and out of the map to pinpoint specific objects, or witness the spectacular sight of the entire universe from earth’s point of view.

The existing beta version of the map is far from complete, with ambitious astronomers holding high hopes for its future possibilities. In approximately four years, the atlas is expected to reach its final form, displaying stars 50 times fainter than what is currently seen.

A star with a perfect rainbow

SkyMapper has managed to pinpoint one of the oldest stars in the universe, formed 13.7 billion years ago.

The various wavelengths of light given off by stars provide an indication of what it’s made of. Older stars parade a perfect rainbow and a pristine appearance, as the clean hydrogen and helium that originally existed means no heavy materials have filled them.

As opposed to the sun, which consists of a concoction of matter, the oldest stars appear wholesome and uncontaminated.

The identified star has been described as perfect, radiating a pure rainbow as it burns. It exists around 6000 light years away from Earth and can now be observed through a close-up on your computer screen.

The innovative atlas opens unbelievable opportunities for exploring the galaxies with ease. What isn’t visible to the naked eye can now be viewed in extraordinary detail, whilst simply sitting in your living room chair.