Astronomers discover largest known structure in the universe

first_imgAs we all learned from a good book once upon a time, space is big — really big — and we just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. So, when an international team of astronomers led by the University of Lancashire say they have found the largest known structure in the universe, we can all safely assume that we just won’t be able to properly grasp how big that structure is.The structure is a large quasar group (LQG), which is a group of supermassive black holes. This one is so enormous that the team says it would take a vessel traveling at the speed of light around four billion years to cross the structure’s expanse. The team points out that whole galaxy clusters can be about two-to-three Megaparsecs (Mpc) in size, whereas a typical large quasar group can be around 200Mpc. Astronomers note that we should not be able to detect LGQ’s larger than 370Mpc, however, this newly discovered LQG is around 500Mpc, but due to its elongated shape, reaches 1200Mpc at its widest point.To put the size of the newly discovered LQG into perspective, our Milky Way is only 0.75Mpc away from its neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, which translates to about 2.5 million lightyears — significantly smaller than the four billion lightyears it would take to travel across the LQG.Interestingly, the Cosmological Principle pioneered by Albert Einstein states that at a large enough scale, the universe looks the same to any observer at any viewing location. That, mixed with some more modern theories, suggest that we shouldn’t be able to view a structure larger than the aforementioned 370Mpc, but considering astronomers have just viewed a structure measuring in at 500Mpc and 1200Mpc at its widest point, aspects of the Cosmological Principle and other modern theories are being called into question.via Royal Astronomical Societylast_img

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