What does the entire observable universe look like? Not exactly like this—but it's a pretty (and fascinating) picture. The illustration, based on logarithmic maps from Princeton researchers and images from NASA, shows the universe from a human perspective: The sun is at the center, ringed by planets, galaxies, the cosmic web (the void between solar systems), and invisible plasma from the Big Bang.
Artist Pablo Carlos Budassi put the illustration together armed with Photoshop, recent research... and some weed. He included as many details as possible. "Something I didn't have time to do was to smoothly merge the cosmic web with the last single galaxies that appear," he says. "The rest was relatively easy and only took a couple of nights and about 100 grams of marijuana to do it."
Using logarithmic maps let Budassi shrink enormous size of the universe into something a little more understandable by squeezing in enormous distances: Each ring increases by a factor of 10. And turning the map into a massive circle makes it more more digestible than the long charts Princeton researchers created over a decade ago to visualize the same space.
"I find mind-blowing that the picture is a map both of space and time all together," Budassi says. "The outer edge of the picture is the start of our universe as we actually think it began, then the sphere of the first light that shone, and then some galaxies so old that almost all the stars that form them are already dead. Each structure is a picture of the far past."
Budassi first created the image in 2012, but it recently started making the rounds online. "I invite all astronomers and visual artists to make better versions of this image, and new ones, that picture all we are learning from the night sky," he says.