AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – Developing a map of the universe is now closer than ever before. Scientists with the University of Texas announced this past month that they have now located and mapped more than 180,000 new galaxies and nearly 5,000 possible black holes.
The research was published this February in The Astrophysical Journal and marks the first time researchers have cataloged the objects.
Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) has been using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in west Texas since 2017 to detect light emitted by hydrogen from 10 billion light-years away. According to a release from the University of Texas, this type of light signals the creation of new stars.
The researchers used the telescope to identify 181,028 galaxies and 4,976 “active galactic nuclei,” which signal a black hole.
Researchers used supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, located at the University of Texas, and software used in dating apps to identify the galaxies. According to the release, more than 60 terabytes of data were sorted through.
Identifying galaxies using redshift
The telescope looked at redshift data, which shows how fast a star is moving away from Earth. As the star moves further away, the frequency the star emits on the electromagnetic spectrum decreases.
If the star was moving toward us, called a negative redshift or blueshift, the frequency would increase.
Scientists are able to determine how far a star is from Earth by observing its speed. This is called Hubble’s Law. The faster the object appears to be moving, the further away it is. This law helps scientists understand the expansion of the universe. It is also used in models for the Big Bang Theory.
Based on the study’s findings, researchers believe the universe is growing faster than expected, according to Science Daily.
The HETDEX Collaboration includes researchers from UT Austin and five other institutions located in the United States and Germany.