What's the biggest known structure in the universe?
Astronomers used to think it was a "filament" of galaxies known as the Sloan Great Wall. But recent research suggests a different structure is even bigger -- and its size has astronomers scratching their heads.
Meet the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall (Her-CrB GW). Check it out in the video above.
"The Her-CrB GW is larger than the theoretical upper limit on how big universal structures can be," Dr. Jon Hakkila, an astrophysics professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and one of the astronomers who discovered the structure, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Thus, it is a conundrum: it shouldn't exist but apparently does."
Mysteries just like this are why astronomers scan the skies for a glimpse into the past, as they shed light not only on the early years of our universe, but also more about our galaxy, our solar system, and ultimately, ourselves.
"We are now mapping structures across the sky," astronomer Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., who was not involved in the great wall's discovery, told The Huffington Post. "We’re learning how the universe grew up. So we’re learning about how our cluster of galaxies grew up and how our own galaxy grew up and how our sun formed, and how the Earth formed soon there after. We’re looking back at our history."
Because astronomers are still mapping the sky, there just may be something even grander than the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall in our universe.
"The danger of finding the biggest, or most distant, or the oldest things in the universe is always that sooner or later someone is likely to come along and find something bigger, more distant, or older than the thing you found," Hakkila said. "So far we have not been upstaged, but it has only been about six months since we published."
The finding was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
What’s the biggest thing in the universe? That sounds like a simple question, but the answer is strangely complicated and recently there’s been evidence that the object that we thought was biggest really isn’t.
Hey everyone. Jacqueline Howard here. So, the Earth is pretty big, but you know it’s nowhere near the biggest thing in the observable universe. The sun is way bigger--in fact, you could fit a million Earths inside it--but it’s tiny compared to some of the other stars in our galaxy. And we know that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one of 200 billion galaxies in our universe and many of the others are much bigger than ours. But even the biggest galaxies out there are pipsqueaks compared to some other structures that astronomers have found.
For years, astronomers were convinced that a structure known as the Sloan Great Wall was the biggest-known structure in the universe. This vast cluster of galaxies and other cosmic matter is a mind-boggling 1.4 billion light-years across. But just recently they found something even bigger.
Feast your eyes on the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall measuring around 10 billion light-years across. How big is that exactly? In miles that’s a six followed by like 22 zeros. And if you’re going at the speed of light, it would take you 10 billion years to get from one end to the other. Sheesh. So this just may be the largest and most massive structure in the observable universe -- and its very existence has left astronomers scratching their heads.
You see, this ‘great wall’ is so massively ginormous that it shouldn’t even exist, given the age of the universe. Astronomers just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that an object that formed only a few billion years after the Big Bang could have grown so big.
So there you have it. The biggest structure in the universe is the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall--at least for now. How great is that?
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