What does the universe look like? It’s a question that obsesses stoners and astrophysicists alike, though the astrophysicists probably have the most accurate answer.
For a gorgeous — and award-winning — take on 240 million light years of galaxies and dark matter, check out Miguel Aragon’s visualization of “The Cosmic Web,” which won the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, and graces the cover of Science this week. “Underneath the galaxies, there is a complex network of invisible dark matter. Our poster shows the structure and dynamics of the universe in a unifying way,” says Aragon, an associate research scientist in astrophysics at Johns Hopkins.
I don’t know much about dark matter (I’m no Adam Riess), but Aragon’s is an image I could spend some time staring at. The universe apparently looks like tissue paper, or lava, or sunset-hued jellyfish. Or I guess you could just say it looks astronomical.