Astronomers discover humongous structure one-ninth the size of the observable universe

Astronomers discover humongous structure one-ninth the size of the observable universe

Artist’s illustration of a bright gamma-ray burst. (Photo: NASA/Swift/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith and John Jones)

The sheer size of our universe is just about unfathomable, so you can imagine the surprise that researchers must have experienced when they recently discovered a structure within our universe that measured 5 billion light years across. That’s more than one-ninth the size of the entire observable universe, and by far the largest structure ever discovered.

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In fact, this mysterious structure is so colossal that it could shatter our current understanding of the cosmos.

“If we are right, this structure contradicts the current models of the universe,” said Lajos Balazs, lead author on the paper, in a press release by the Royal Astronomical Society. “It was a huge surprise to find something this big – and we still don’t quite understand how it came to exist at all.”

Just what is this massive structure? It’s not a single, physical object, but rather a cluster of nine massive galaxies bound together gravitationally, much like how our Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies. It was discovered after researchers identified a ring of nine gamma ray bursts (GRBs) that appeared to be at very similar distances from us, each around 7 billion light years away.

GRBs are the brightest electromagnetic events known to occur in the universe, caused by a supernova. Their detection typically indicates the presence of a galaxy, so all of the GRBs in this ring are believed to each come from a different galaxy. But their close proximity to one another suggests that these galaxies must be linked together. There is only a 1 in 20,000 probability of the GRBs being in this distribution by chance.

A mega-cluster of this size shouldn’t be possible, at least not if you think in terms of our current theories. Those theories predict that the universe ought to be relatively uniform on the largest scales, meaning that the sizes of structures shouldn’t vary by much. In fact, the theoretical limit to structure size has been calculated at around 1.2 billion light years across.

If the Hungarian-American team’s calculations are correct, then this giant new structure– which measures in at over 5 billion light years across — would blow that classic model out of the water. In fact, either the researchers’ calculations are wrong on this, or scientists will need to radically revise their theories on the evolution of the cosmos.

Needless to say, this GRB cluster discovery has the potential to cause a sweeping paradigm shift in astronomy. At the very least, it reminds us just how small our view of the universe really is.

 

Source www.mnn.com

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15 Comments

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  1. Shane Macguyver Cooper I gather it’s more than one large structure. I’m not sure it means anything to me but I find it interesting. Black holes, I read, send out electromagnetic waves. As you say, they do suck in lots of small particles and clear the air. They say there’s more than just a few at the center of each galaxy and everything seems to rotate around them. Though much of this could be theory http://www.astro.cardiff.ac.uk/research/gravity/tutorial/?page=1blackholes

  2. A theory will always remain until proven otherwise.. lest we forget the world is flat.
    I got a theory on black holes..
    Black holes in my opinion are the garbage disposal units of the cosmos. Without them, the universe would be overpopulated with excess star systems and so much light, that our night sky would be the same as day.. bright blue. Without black holes, I believe the rate at which our universe expands, would also slow dramatically.
    So how do you incorperate the scientific method into identifying and understanding a heavenly mass, that absorbs everything when it’s theoretically impossible to view and observe with accuracy, an object that consumes light?

  3. Black holes another misidentified phenomena! Current mainstream cosmological thinking is wrong! The Electric Universe theory is varifiable without the mathematical inventions of theoretical sciences!

  4. You Gunna weigh in on this Carl Thomas??..
    Personally I don’t believe that a galaxy cluster could be so large, what I think may have happened to confuse the astronomers is… that gravitational fields(from black holes or binary stars) between us and the first and only supernova g.r.b. could have bent or warped the gamma burst, so that over time the original burst would repeat/echo into our radio telescopes and cause a false grb detection from somewhere near, but not exactly at the first grb vector.
    So what do you think of my cosmic conspiracy??

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