back to article NASA chuffed with super-accurate new map of universe

NASA and an international boffinry alliance are chuffed to announce that they have successfully updated the map grid of the entire universe. Just as old-time sailors used the stars to navigate the Earth's oceans, spacecraft plying the infinite void of space - and astronomers probing it - will use quasars a billion lightyears …


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  1. Preston Crow

    Apparent position, not actual position

    It sounds like this is a map based on the apparent position of the quasars relative to Earth, not their real position, In other words, it's their locations as of when the light hitting Earth now left them. Until we start navigating with FTL drives or wandering around in a TARDIS, that will probably be good enough.

  2. Steven Knox
    IT Angle

    IT Angle

    "(Nobody's totally sure what a quasar actually is, hence the name. A popular theory is that they result from massive amounts of stuff - perhaps entire galaxies - falling into incredibly enormous black holes and emitting vast amounts of energy as they are wracked and mangled out of existence.)"

    So, effectively, the universe's garbage collection algorithm, then?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aw, poor guy.

    It must be a hard life then, being an astronomer. I feel for them, I really do. On a lighter note, kudos for a job well done and all that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And it writes itself...

    " "Everything is always moving," [Dr Ma] adds, rather bitterly. "

    Twenty years later, Dr Ma looks back on that memory and his fists clench reflexively as his obsessive rage takes hold of him. Around him sirens bleat tediously and in the distance gunfire can be heard as echos through the lair's volcano-forged tunnels. The SAS have stumbled upon his "pet" - that should be fun!

    There isn't much time, but there is enough, he thinks, as he steps over the bloodied corpse of British secret agent, Miles Cyrus. No one survives the tank full of genetically enhanced amorous dolphins - at least not a second time. The third time was probably the clincher. He may never quite understand why the fellow kept jumping in. Never mind.

    Ma strides up to the podium in the centre of the massive cavern and lets his hand linger over the large red button that is the only decoration on its surface.

    The words of the button's label fill his sight and fill his being as he clenches his fist and drives his hand down towards it.

    "Everything always NOT moving."

    Coming to cinemas near you this Summer..

    "Dr Ma"

  5. Graham Marsden

    "the precise location of GPS satellites..."

    ... but I bet that won't stop some idiot still blindly following his Sat Nav's instructions up a Welsh Mountainside!

    PS There again, Tom Tom's latest e-mail doesn't give you much confidence either...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Is that a quasar in your pocket?

    Well done, boffins.

  7. James O'Brien

    "You could use stars for that - people used to."

    That line says it all.

  8. silverlion

    Redshift = intrinsic + distance

    Quasars aren't as far away as most astronomers think, they just seem to be because they have high (intrinsic) redshifts.

    Meaning; the redshift of quasars is mostly inherent, and the current interpretation of redshift is wrong. Redshift is partially related to distance, but also to the age of the object, and as the age increases, the intrinsic redshift drops in discrete (quantum) steps.

    A quasar is a fairly newborn galaxy, ejected from the core of an old galaxy, so its intrinsic redshift is quite high.

    NASA astronomers are completely ignoring what large maps of quasars are telling them about redshift. When will they wake up and 'discover' what the rest of us already know?

  9. Randy Hudson

    Really, a "plurality" of gas masks?

    I guess you don't want to be too specific with a patent, and limit yourself to animals with just a pair of breasts.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Improved Accuracy?

    "Hey, honey, this new pocket-sized, Quasar-powered navigation device is so accurate, apparently, I can use it to find your hoo-hah in the dark."

    Click. Crinkle ... squiffle ... mumble ...

    "Umm, sweetie, that's not it."

    "So much for Quasars, then."

  11. Neal 5


    We pay billions in taxes for this shoddy work, it's just not good enough.

    About time we actually researched something worthwhile and relevant, like how to improve the printing on tea towels.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Quasar! Quasar! Wherefore art though Quasar?

    Quasars are distant object. Oh, lets say 1bn light years give or take a few. We have counted 3500; there may be many more we have missed. The point is we are looking at history. The question is: what is happening now, how big are the black holes now or have they all evaporated by Hawking radiation?

    For all we know the universe out there may be empty, with one big black hole or full of new stars screaming with radiation. I don't know about you but it scares the hell out of me.

  13. Campbell

    Damn shame!

    "For all we know the universe out there may be empty, with one big black hole or full of new stars screaming with radiation. I don't know about you but it scares the hell out of me."

    Oh what wonders await...

    Hubble gives us the tinest glimpse of the majesty of the the known Universe, but to think that there is so much more that we will never know makes me, not scared but deeply and profoundly sad.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down


    It's a lovely theory, sadly with one rather stonking hole in it.

    There are no "local" Quasars.

    That being so, it's highly unlikely that Quasars are an ongoing phenomenon and are far more likely something that were more common when the Universe was much younger and denser. Thus the ones we see now are very likely to be a bloody long way away (i.e. they are not actually there any more, but they were when the light we see set off from where they aren't).

    I like to go with the simple answer, it's more usually the correct one. Also, it has the comforting feature that it rules out any unexpected Quasar formation in our bit of Universe........

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