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Video takes us on a journey through the universe

The fly-through map shows over 70 thousand galaxies in just one small part of our universe Photo: Durham University

The universe is big. Very big. It contains billions of galaxies, which contain billions of stars. Each galaxy is several thousands of light years across and millions of light years apart. So travelling there in a spaceship is some time off.

However, we can still see what it would be like to go there, thanks to groundbreaking research at one of the UK's top universities.

Dr Peder Norberg at Durham University’s department of Computation Cosmology is using data and images taken by the Galaxy And Mass Assembly survey (GAMA) to produce a 3D map of the cosmos.

GAMA uses the latest generation of telescopes, on the ground and on satellites, to study cosmology and galaxy formation and evolution. The project is currently scanning a section of the heavens in unprecedented detail that makes up about a 200th of the total universe. That might not sound like much but this area contains over 250,000 galaxies, some so far away that the light they emit takes billions of years to reach us here on Earth.

The videos created by Dr Norberg and his team take the viewer on a journey through the universe that is virtually accurate to what is actually out there. But it is not just about making an entertaining trip through the stars, this work has real scientific value.

“This is to some level what Captain Kirk would see while travelling around in his spaceship. They are real images, and the nice thing is it tell you much more about how big the universe is.

“So this puts us back to square one to understand what this actually means, where does space come from and also address the question of what these objects are.

“This allows us to understand how galaxies form and understand the mass distribution in the universe.

“There is no better way to visually see a cluster (galaxy) than to be able to go round it and this movie allows you to do this.”

– Dr Peder Norberg