Astronomers discover largest known structure in the universe

Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:38am IST

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 is pictured in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters January 10, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 is pictured in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters January 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/NASA/Handout

Related Topics

REUTERS - Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe - a group of quasars so large it would take 4 billion years to cross it while traveling at speed of light.

The immense scale also challenges Albert Einstein's Cosmological Principle, the assumption that the universe looks the same from every point of view, researchers said.

The findings by academics from Britain's University of Central Lancashire were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and reported on the society's website on Friday.

Quasars are believed to be the brightest objects in the universe, with light emanating from the nuclei of galaxies from the early days of the universe and visible billions of light-years away.

"Since 1982 it has been known that quasars tend to group together in clumps or 'structures' of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs," the society said.

This newly discovered large quasar group has a dimension of 500 megaparsecs, each megaparsec measuring 3.3 million light-years.

Because the LQG is elongated, its longest dimension is 1,200 megaparsecs, or 4 billion light-years, the society said.

That size is 1,600 times larger than the distance from Earth's Milky Way to the nearest galaxy, the Andromeda.

"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," Roger Clowes, leader of the research team, said in a statement. "This is hugely exciting - not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe."

Clowes said the team would continue to investigate the phenomenon with particular interest in the challenge to the Cosmological Principle, which has been widely accepted since Einstein, whose work still forms the basis for much of modern cosmology. (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Gary Hill)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-WTO Row

Reuters Showcase

Natwar Singh's Book

Natwar Singh's Book

Congress slams Natwar Singh's book challenging Sonia Gandhi  Full Article 

Maharashtra Landslide

Maharashtra Landslide

Rescuers in Maharashtra landslide say hopes for survivors "bleak"  Full Article 

Jadeja Not Guilty

Jadeja Not Guilty

Anderson and Jadeja found not guilty by ICC  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

WHO chief says Ebola out of control but can be stopped  Full Article 

Graft in China

Graft in China

Exclusive - China's Xi likely to promote army general who exposed graft: sources  Full Article 

Mideast Conflict

Mideast Conflict

Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 50 dead in Rafah shelling  Full Article 

Anti-gay Law

Anti-gay Law

Ugandan court overturns anti-gay law that halted Western aid  Full Article 

Facebook Down

Facebook Down

Facebook service disrupted for some users  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage