In this documentary BBC horizon investigates the question, how big is the Universe? At face value the idea of mapping out the universe is a simple task much like making accurate maps here on Earth however you would be wrong as the universe is certainly not a static object. The known or visible universe is about 13.8 billion light years in diameter, scientists actually have a map of the edge of visible universe also known as the cosmic background radiation. However this is not the true edge of the universe, it is just as far as light has managed to travel since the big bang.
We know that the universe is expanding, this is in a large part thanks to nobel prize winning cosmologist Saul Perlmutter from the University of Berkley California and his team. They made this discovery by devising methods for tracking supernovas or “ standard candles” as they are known to people who use them because they provide the perfect way to map out distance in the universe. Saul Perlmutter Would argue that they are not such a perfect standard candle as the event only happens once every 200 - 300 years in an average galaxy, however once discovered they provide a perfect measurement because no matter how big the star is the matter always collapses at the same mass.
The nobel prize winning material found with supernova was not only that the universe is still growing but it is in fact speeding up. This documentary explores how scientists are creating maps of the universe from galaxies to dark matter to try and understand just how big it really is.