Astronomers say they’ve discovered the largest known structure in the universe, and you’ll never believe what it is.
Are you ready to find out? You’re sure?
Alright, it’s an incredibly massive—super cool and exciting—blob. That’s right, a blob. The “supervoid” (as astronomers prefer to call it) is 1.8 billion light years across and is distinguished for its unusual emptiness. Basically, it’s a massive hole in the universe, but not quite the same as a black hole since it doesn’t act as a vacuum.
Its existence was only noticed thanks to an astronomical survey, which confirmed that around 10,000 entire galaxies were missing from the part of space the blob sits in. Since that area also registered as being unusually cold, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa dug in to find what was going on there.
While the discovery of a giant void and a cold spot in the universe doesn’t sound like much, they’re actually quite significant. The universe, relatively speaking, is evenly distributed both in terms of planets and temperature. Therefore, the presence of a giant, cold void with a disproportionate number of planets and stars simply leads to more questions.
“The void itself I’m not so unhappy about. It’s like the Everest of voids – there has to be one that’s bigger than the rest,” Prof Carlos Frenk, a cosmologist at the University of Durham, told The Guardian. “Now we have to figure out how does the void itself form. It’s still a rare event.”
The void itself, meanwhile, only accounts for 10 per cent of the area’s unusual chilliness. Researchers are really hoping to nail down what the cause of the cold really is.
The discovery, however, does coincide with the idea that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. So at least we understand some things about our universe.
Or at least, that’s what we hope.