Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Mapping the Universe

While at the aforementioned Tully-Fisher conference I saw a presentation by the ALFALFA group. ALFALFA is apparently either a major cereal crop or a huge neutral hydrogen survey depending on who you're talking too - in this case, the latter. Which is just as well because I've no idea how to make a major cereal crop sound interesting/funny/depict in some clever way with CGI.

Anyway one of their slides showed the distribution of the galaxies they've detected in 3D space, which is a standard thing to do. But it got me thinking that it would be pretty neat to show actual images of the galaxies rather than just boring old points. And then, happily, I realised that I already have all the code I need to do this, which is very nearly as good as finding a forgotten chocolate bar.

Of course any fool can plot static 2D images. Yawn. So, instead of opting for the faster but marginally more expensive option for self-gratification of buying more chocolate, I also made a 3D flythrough. This is in keeping with my strict policy of doing things for the sole reason that they are cool. After a well-timed 3-day weekend, an epic download of more than 11 thousand images and probably about that many cups of tea later, this is the result.

Anyone interested in doing their own extragalactic cartography, or just wondering how it was done, can read a short article on my website.

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