The Universe! We all live there, but how many of us have actually sat down and looked at a map of the place? Well, here's your chance: A team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has rendered a 3-D image of the cosmos out to a distance of 380 million light-years away. This is the biggest thing you're going to look at a picture of today.
The map, known as the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS), depicts 95 percent of the night sky and is said to be the most complete local map of the universe ever created. Govert Schilling at Science explains that "color codes for distance: purple dots are nearby galaxies; red dots are distant ones." The map took more than a decade to finish, and one of the spearheaders of the project, the astronomer John Huchra, died in October before the work could be finished.
According to a press release from the CFA, the map might help clear up a lingering mystery about why the Milky Way moves the way it does. Our galaxy travels about 370 miles per second in a way that can't be explained by the gravity of our nearest neighbors. However, the map depicts some "massive local structures" that previously hadn't been seen in great detail and that might be affecting the Milky Way's position in space.
There are bigger images and even video tours at the 2MASS Redshift Survey homepage.