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Largest Structure in the Universe Discovered
« on: January 11, 2013, 11:20:38 PM »
by afp

Astronomers on Friday said they had observed the largest structure yet seen in the cosmos, a cluster of galaxies from the early Universe that spans an astonishing four billion light years.

The sprawling structure is known as a large quasar group (LQG), in which quasars -- the nuclei of ancient galaxies, powered by supermassive black holes -- clump together.

The discovery in the deep Universe was made by a team led by Roger Clowes at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute at Britain's University of Central Lancashire.

It would take a spaceship travelling at the speed of light four thousand million years to get from one end of the cluster to the other.

To give a sense of scale, our galaxy (the Milky Way) is separated from its nearest neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, by two and a half million light years.

"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," Clowes said in a press statement issued by Britain's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

"This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the Universe."

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Re: Largest Structure in the Universe Discovered
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 11:43:33 PM »
four thousand million years[/b] to get from one end of the cluster to the other.

To give a sense of scale, our galaxy (the Milky Way) is separated from its nearest neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, by two and a half million light years.
unimaginable.  beyond comprehension.  four thousand million years?  does this mean four billion years, as in 4,000,000,000? 
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Re: Largest Structure in the Universe Discovered
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 12:41:06 AM »
The newly found clump is an es­ti­mat­ed 1,600 times wid­er than the dis­tance be­tween our Milky Way gal­axy and the neigh­bor­ing An­drom­e­da Gal­axy. Such a size, the re­search­ers said, is suf­fi­cient to pos­sibly vi­o­late the “Cos­mo­log­i­cal Prin­ci­ple”—the as­sump­tion ac­cept­ed by most cos­mol­o­gists that the uni­verse, seen at a large enough scale, looks the same from any view­point. Most pre­vi­ous ob­serva­t­ional ev­i­dence sup­ports the prin­ci­ple, but it has nev­er been prov­en.

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Re: Largest Structure in the Universe Discovered
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2013, 01:06:42 AM »
The Cosmological Principle is a philosophical as well as a scientific state­ment. It’s an out­growth of the con­vic­tion that peo­ple don’t occupy a un­ique place in the grand scheme of things-- the very idea that brought sci­ent­ists such as Gali­leo and Cop­ern­i­cus into con­flict with Church auth­or­ities in their time.

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Re: Largest Structure in the Universe Discovered
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2013, 01:09:24 AM »
Cal­cula­t­ions based on the mod­ern the­o­ry of cos­mol­o­gy, draw­ing on Al­bert Ein­stein’s work, sug­gest an­ything larg­er than about 1.2 bil­lion light-years across would vi­o­late the Cos­mo­lo­g­i­cal Prin­ci­ple, said Clowes and col­leagues. (A light-year is the dis­tance light trav­els in a year.)

This qua­sar group ranges in size from one-third larg­er than that crit­i­cal size, to more than three times larg­er, de­pend­ing on where its width is meas­ured. It lies about 8.7 bil­lion light-years away. It’s “dif­fi­cult to fath­om the scale” of the struc­ture, Clowes said. But “our team has been look­ing at si­m­i­lar cases which add fur­ther weight to this chal­lenge [to the Cos­mo­lo­g­i­cal Prin­ci­ple] and we will be con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­t­i­gate these fas­ci­nat­ing phe­nom­e­na.”

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