Astronomers Spot 'Biggest Structure in Universe'

Galaxy supercluster is 1B light years across
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2016 8:48 AM CST
Astronomers Spot 'Biggest Structure in Universe'
Astronomers suspect there may be many more BOSS galaxies than the 830 they can see.   (AP Photo/NASA)

A newly identified cosmic feature is so enormous that it has left some of the finest minds in astronomy well and truly boggled. The BOSS—named after the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey—is a wall, or supercluster, of at least 830 galaxies connected by filaments of gas, which Smithsonian likens to a "cosmic honeycomb." With mass 10,000 times that of the Milky Way, the BOSS is around a billion light years across and is by far the biggest known structure in the universe, dwarfing the Sloan Great Wall supercluster and the Laniakea supercluster that our own galaxy is in, New Scientist reports.

BOSS, between 4.5 billion and 6.4 billion light years away, is part of the "cosmic web of clusters and groups of galaxies connected by filaments" that make up the large-scale structure of the universe, its discoverers write in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, though not all astronomers are convinced. "I don't entirely understand why they are connecting all of these features together to call them a single structure," Allison Coil of the University of California in San Diego tells New Scientist. "There are clearly kinks and bends in this structure that don't exist, for example, in the Sloan Great Wall." Other experts say that while the definition of a structure may be subjective, there are almost certainly bigger ones still to be found. (Also spotted recently: the most distant galaxy ever seen.)

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