Research Beat: A UConn researcher maps the skies


A University of Connecticut researcher is one of the architects of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which just launched its fifth generation.  

Jonathan Trump is an assistant professor of physics at UConn, and one of the people working on the SDSS. Trump is an observational astronomer, meaning his research is concerned with recording data about the observable universe.  

The SDSS itself is an astronomical survey intended to assist in creating three dimensional maps of the cosmos. It does so by using spectroscopy, which is the study of what light is emitted when an object interacts with electromagnetic radiation. 

Trump has been involved in the SDSS since the early stages of the project, he explained in an interview with UConn Today.  

“My very first undergrad research project was an SDSS project. I have worked on SDSS as a post-doc, and I am working on it now as faculty,” Trump says. “I’ve been part of it from the first SDSS iteration, and as it has taken off, so has my career.” 

This fifth generation of SDSS began in summer of 2020. The first data release of the first generation of SDSS was in 2000. In its eighth data release, the SDSS released the largest color image of the sky ever made.  

This fifth generation of the SDSS is comprised of three parts: the Milky Way mapperthe Black Hole Mapper and the Local Volume Mapper.  

The Milky Way mapper will be focused on mapping stars and other astronomical objects in the Milky Way. The Black Hole mapper will focus on finding and tracking the evolution of black holes across the universe. The Local Volume is a vast swath of space in which the Milky Way resides. It contains at least 500 galaxies. The Local Volume Mapper will focus on mapping those galaxies.  

More about the SDSS can be found on  

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @SDSSSurveys on Twitter.

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