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

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

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

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Paucity of Rains

Patchy Rain

Met office rules out surplus monsoon in 2014   Full Article 

Boat Tragedy

Boat Tragedy

Boy and girl on Korean ferry tied life jackets together before they drowned.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Russia starts drill near border.  Full Article 

Big Buyback

Big Buyback

Apple expands buybacks by $30 billion.  Full Article 

Put A Ring On It

Put A Ring On It

Actress Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison.  Full Article 

Times Top List

Time 100

Janet Yellen, Miley Cyrus odd bedfellows in Time's list of 100 most influential.  Full Article 

Champions League

Champions League

Benzema strike gives Real Madrid edge over holders Bayern Munich.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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