Legendary scientist Stephen Hawking still isn't done revolutionizing physics.
Researchers led by Hawking at the Cosmos supercomputing lab in Cambridge have announced a plan to build the most detailed 3-D map of the early universe ever created.
"Hawking is a great theorist but he always wants to test his theories against observations," Paul Shellard, director of the Cosmos computing center, said in a statement. "What will emerge is a 3-D map of the universe with the positions of billions of galaxies."
Building the map will involve plotting billions of galaxies, supernovas and black holes.
The map will combine data from several different observatories. First, the researchers will use the cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang captured by the Planck satellite. This data shows the earliest light in the universe and helps physicists guess at how old the universe is. They'll combine that with data from the Dark Energy Survey telescope, which right now is measuring the expansion of the universe over the last 14 billion years. The map will also use data from the Euclid probe that is set to launch in 2020. Euclid is expected to map out 10 billion galaxies.
Then the researchers will create a map and compare how these datasets match up, according to Universe Today.
Scientists have created other early universe models, but this will be the first time they compare what the early universe looked like and its evolution since.
Hawking and the researchers hope the map will give them some insight into dark energy — the mysterious force that seems to be fueling the expansion of the universe. It will also give scientists a way to test if the current estimate about the age of the universe is correct.
More details about the map will emerge at the Starmus conference in the Canary Islands from June 27 to July 2.