Lessons learned from classifying unknown X-ray sources in the cosmos

Screenshot from the Virtual Data Cosmos
Screenshot from the Virtual Data Cosmos
Visualizing data clusters in the Virtual Data Cosmos

Astronomy has become a big data discipline, and the ever growing databases in modern astronomy pose many new challenges for analysts. Scientists are more frequently turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze multidimensional data sets. However, it is not only a methodological and technical challenge: it is also a visual one! Data visualization is driving discovery in astronomy and is also helping with communicating new findings to the general public. …

Data visualization has driven discovery in astronomy and helped communicate new findings to the general public

Illustration by Daisy Chung

What is the history of our universe? What are the origins of galaxies like our Milky Way? Where does dark matter, which apparently determines the basic structure of the universe, come from?

These are some of the big questions that astronomy deals with. As one of the oldest natural sciences, astronomy explores the basic connections of our universe and it has always been a data-driven discipline. Theory and experiments are in a close and constant interplay. …


Annika Kreikenbohm is an astrophysicist and information designer based in Würzburg, Germany.

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