A new discovery by astronomers reveals the largest structure ever seen in the Universe. This object is so massive and vast that, in the words of one scientist, it will change astronomy’s “current understanding of the scale of the universe.”
This structure is a newly detected quasar group and is indeed the largest structure ever detected. Roger Clowes, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K comments the finding, “This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe.”
A quasi-stellar radio source (“quasar”) is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. The scientific consensus is that a quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding its central supermassive black hole.
The Milky Way is separated from its nearest neighbor galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, by about 0.75 Megaparsecs (Mpc) or 2.5 million light-years.
Whole clusters of galaxies can be 2-3 Mpc across. And based on present scientific principles and calculations, astronomers should not be able to find a structure larger than 370 Mpc.
This newly discovered group, however, “LQG”, stretches 4 billion light-years across. A typical dimension of 500 Mpc. And since it is elongated, its longest dimension is 1200 Mpc. That is, 1,600 times larger than the distance from Milky Way to Andromeda.
There is truly a lack for words to describe this Wast and awesome quasar group.
“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe. This is hugely exciting – not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe,”, said Clowes. And added, “Our team has been looking at similar cases which add further weight to this challenge, and we will be continuing to investigate these fascinating phenomena,”.
The study describing the finding was published Friday in the Monthly Notices of the British Royal Astronomical Society.
Astronomers discover the largest structure in the universe