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Astronomers release 3D version of largest-ever galaxy map tracking back 6 billion years (VIDEO)

A landmark space map delves into dark matter.

Super earth resizeEnlarge
The light from an alien 'super-earth' was detected by a NASA space telescope. Above: artist's conception. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Courtesy)

Astronomers have released groundbreaking data from the world's biggest three-dimensional galaxy map, reported Futurity

With this latest release, researchers have completed a 3D layer of the historic map they put out last year, which represented one-third of the night sky, according to Futurity

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The data, announced Wednesday, represents the last two years of material collected as part of a six-year international space project known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project

Researchers say this new installment "will help astronomers explain the mysterious 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' that scientists know makes up 96 percent of the Universe." The completed map will track the positions of 1.5 million massive galaxies going back six billion years in cosmic time, and trace giant black holes going back 12 billion years, according to the group's Wednesday press release

"Our goal is to create a map of the universe that will be used long after we are done, by future generations of astronomers, physicists, and the general public," said New York University physics professor Michael Blanton, who lead the group responsible for the latest release, reported Futurity

"Dark matter and dark energy are two of the greatest mysteries of our time," according to another project leader, David Schlegel of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "We're confident this new map will guide us, or someone else, in solving these mysteries."

Much of the project's material is free online: users can browse through crazy-cool sky imagery, view specific data for various space objects, or search the map by item. 

Or take their "Flight Through The Universe" here: 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120809/astronomers-release-3d-version-largest-ever-galaxy-map-tracking-back-6-