The large-scale structure of the Universe is dominated by vast voids with galaxies clustered in knots, sheets, and filaments, forming a great 'cosmic web'. In this personal account of the major astronomical developments leading to this discovery, we learn from Laird A. Thompson, a key protagonist, how the first 3D maps of galaxies were created. Using non-mathematical language, he introduces the standard model of cosmology before explaining how and why ideas about cosmic voids evolved, referencing the original maps, reproduced here. His account tells of the competing teams of observers, racing to publish their results, the theorists trying to build or update their models to explain them, and the subsequent large-scale survey efforts that continue to the present day. This is a well-documented account of the birth of a major pillar of modern cosmology, and a useful case study of the trials surrounding how this scientific discovery became accepted.
Laird A. Thompson
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
10 December 2020
Professional and scholarly
Foreword; Preface; List of Abbreviations; 1. Understanding the Foundations of Modern Cosmology; 2. Preview of the Discovery of Cosmic Voids; 3. Homogeneity of the Universe: Great Minds Speak Out; 4. All-Sky Surveys in the Transition Years 1950-1975; 5. The Early Redshift Surveys from Arizona Observatories; 6. Galaxy Mapping Attempt at Tartu Observatory; 7. Theoretical Models of Galaxy Formation: East versus West; 8. Priority Disputes and the Timeline of Publications; 9. Impact of Cosmic Voids: Cosmology, Gravity at the Weak Limit, and Galaxy Formation; Appendix A. KPNO Observing Proposal; Appendix B. Gregory and Thompson (1978) reprint; References; Index.
Laird A. Thompson is Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has held appointments at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, at the Universities of Hawaii and Nebraska, and is a member of the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union.