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Report: Astronomers Make Vast Map

January 31, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ A team of astronomers has created a map of the cosmos that covers the largest area of the universe ever charted, news reports said Saturday.

The three dimensional map charting 15,500 galaxies, covers an area so large that it would take 500 million years for a light shone on one side to reach the other, The Guardian newspaper said.

Superclusters _ gigantic structures made of clusters of galaxies _ are charted, and the spaces between them, called voids, offer important information about the expansion of the universe, the report said.

``It allows us to make a long-term forecast on the fundamental questions affecting our universe,″ Professor Carlos Frenk of Furham University was quoted as saying in an interview with The Guardian.

Frenk is a member of the international research team that produced the map.

According to the Big Bang theory, gravity has kept the universe expanding since its creation. Scientists believe that to keep the universe expanding, more force is required than the gravitational power produced by the known galaxies, and that the extra force must come from invisible ``dark matter,″ the report said.

The new map gives researchers a way of calculating how much dark matter there is, and they have concluded there is sufficient gravitational force for expansion to continue forever, The Guardian said.

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