Astronomers Have Discovered a Massive Proto-Supercluster of Galaxies in the Early Universe

Thursday, 18 October 2018 - 12:46PM
Astronomy
ESA
Thursday, 18 October 2018 - 12:46PM
Astronomers Have Discovered a Massive Proto-Supercluster of Galaxies in the Early Universe
< >
Composite from Pixabay
Using the VIMOS instrument (VIsible Multi-Object Spectrograph) on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, an international team of astronomers have identified a huge structure in the early Universe that formed just over two billion years after the Big Bang. Nicknamed Hyperion, the galaxy proto-supercluster is now the largest and most massive structure found in the early Universe according to ScienceDaily, with an estimated mass that is one million billion – yes, you read that correctly – times that of our Sun. 

"This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang," said Olga Cucciati of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) Bologna, one of the leaders of the team responsible for the discovery. "Normally these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the Universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things. It was a surprise to see something this evolved when the Universe was relatively young." For you stargazers curious where Hyperion is located in the sky, the researchers say that it is in The Sextans constellation, which is between Leo, Crater, and Hydra. The structure is described as being complex with "at least seven high-density regions connected by filaments of galaxies."




"Superclusters closer to Earth tend to a much more concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural features," explained project scientist Brian Lemaux of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Davis in a statement. "But in Hyperion, the mass is distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs, populated by loose associations of galaxies." In time, the young Hyperion is expected to evolve to be more like the supercluster that the Milky Way is a part of, which makes it a useful subject for astronomers trying to unlock mysteries of the cosmos. "Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the Universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future, and allows us the opportunity to challenge some models of supercluster formation," said Cucciati. "Unearthing this cosmic titan helps uncover the history of these large-scale structures."
Science
Space
Astronomy
ESA
No