10 Of The Biggest Things In The Universe

With technology rapidly advancing, astronomers are finding more and more objects in the universe. The title of “largest thing in the universe” is changing almost yearly. Some of these cosmic objects are so large that they baffle our best scientists, and some of them shouldn’t even exist at all.

The Supervoid

A galactic nursery

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Recently, astronomers have discovered the largest void in the known universe. It lies in the southern constellation of Eridanus. Spanning 1.8 billion light-years, it’s baffling scientists, who never imagined such a thing could exist.

Despite the name “void,” a void in space is not completely empty. It is an area of space that is under-dense, in this case having 30 percent fewer galaxies than the surrounding area. Voids make up 50 percent of the universe, a number that’s only expected to grow as gravity pulls all surrounding matter toward itself. Two things stand out about this void: its immense size and its relation to the mysterious WMAP Cold Spot.

This new supervoid is now the most widely accepted explanation for the cold spot, a large, seemingly empty region in the cosmic radiation background. There have been a range of controversial theories to explain the cold spot, from our universe orbiting a universe-sized black hole to a parallel universe pushing against our own. These days, most scientists believe that the cold spot might be caused by the supervoid: As protons pass through the void, they lose energy and weaken. Still, there is a slight possibility that the supervoid’s location in relation to the cold spot could be coincidental. Scientists need to find out more to prove whether or not the void is causing the mysterious cold spot or if it’s something else entirely.

The Newfound Blob

2- blob

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In 2006, a mysterious blob was named the largest structure in the universe, although it quickly lost its title to newer discoveries. This blob is a giant mass of gas, dust, and galaxies that is 200 million light-years wide and looks like a cluster of green jellyfish. It was found by Japanese astronomers who had been studying a region of the universe known to have large concentrations of gas. To do this, they placed a special filter on their telescope, which coincidentally allowed them to pick up the presence of the blob.

Each of its three “arms” has galaxies packed four times denser than the universe’s average. The galaxies and the gas bubbles contained within the blob are called Lyman-alpha blobs. These are believed to have formed a mere two billion years after the big bang, just a blink of an eye in the cosmic timeline. Scientists think they formed when massive stars from the universe’s earliest days went supernova and blew out their surrounding gases. Because this structure is so large, the astronomers believe it is one of the very first to have formed. They theorize that in the distant future, even more galaxies will emerge from the gases contained in the blob.

The Shapley Supercluster

3- shapley

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For years, astronomers have known that the Milky Way galaxy was being pulled through the universe at a speed of 2.2 million kilometers per hour toward the constellation Centaurus. Astronomers theorized that this was happening due to a Great Attractor, an object with a gravitational pull strong enough to draw our galaxy toward it. They couldn’t know for certain, though, because it lay behind the Zone of Avoidance (ZOA), the part of the universe obscured by the Milky Way.

But while conventional astronomy can’t penetrate the ZOA, X-ray astronomy eventually became advanced enough to peer through the haze and locate the Great Attractor, which was revealed to be a large cluster of galaxies. However, there remained a problem. The Attractor they found couldn’t create a pull as strong as what astronomers were detecting. It only accounted for 44 percent of the observed pull. Focusing their telescopes out even further, they soon found that our galaxy’s cosmic tow truck was itself being pulled toward something even larger: the Shapely Supercluster.

The Shapley Supercluster is a large collection of galaxies behind the Great Attractor that is pulling both the Attractor and our own galaxy toward it. It is a cluster of more than 8,000 galaxies with a mass of more than 10 million Suns. Every galaxy in our region of the universe is on a collision course with it.

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