A few months ago, we reported that astronomers had found the largest object in the universe. Except now, they’ve discovered something even bigger.
The new object is five billion light years across, meaning it’s unfathomably large. Again, there really isn’t a human on Earth who can seriously comprehend how big that actually is. But if we were able to see it here from Earth, we know it would appear 70 times larger than the moon, occupying 36 per cent of our sky. That’s considering that the object is seven billion light years away from us right now.
Are you ready to find out what it is?
The first massive object we reported on turned out to be a giant blob–mildly disappointing. But this new discovery is actually a ring of nine massive, connected galaxies! They were found by tracing a series of gamma-ray bursts (giant releases of energy thought to be the result of massive stars collapsing into blackholes) that occurred in each galaxy, which astronomers often use as a tool to measure distances in far-away places. They soon discovered just how massive this thing was.
But the real find here isn’t the object itself, but what it does to our understanding of the universe.
For one, it undermines Sir Isaac Newton’s Cosmological Principle, which states that, when looking at it from a large enough scale, the universe is uniform–it will essentially have the same makeup no matter where you go. But the existence of random, super-size objects like this one refute that notion, suggesting a much more uneven cosmos.
“If we are right, this structure contradicts the current models of the universe, lead scientist Prof Lajos Balazs said in a statement. “It was a huge surprise to find something this big – and we still don’t quite understand how it came to exist at all.”
Their next mission? Figuring out how it came to exist at all.