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Newly Discovered Billion-Light-Year Galactic Wall is the Largest Object in the Known Universe

Astronomers have spotted the biggest galaxy supercluster, comprising of about 830 galaxies linked together, known as the BOSS Great Wall. Heidi Lietzen of the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics and her team discovered this huge structure of galaxies and it is considered to be the largest cosmic structure found yet. They discovered it when they were analyzing clumped-together galaxies in a vast area between 4.5 and 6.4 billion light years away. Lietzen says “It was so much bigger than anything else in this volume.”

Image Credit: Volker Springel/Max Planck Institute For Astrophysics/SPL

In 2014, astronomers also discovered the other two superclusters, the Sloan Great Wall and the other called Laniakea- Milky Way was found to be part of this supercluster system. Both are huge, but the newly spotted BOSS Great Wall, having a mass of about 10,000 times as great as the Milky Way, is two-thirds bigger than either of them.

The BOSS Great Wall comprises of almost 830 galaxies, those can be seen by telescopes and there are many indistinct ones too that are too far to observe. Individual galaxies like our own Milky Way are linked together by gravity into clusters, and these clusters clump into superclusters. These can in turn link together into long lines of galaxies called walls.

It is not yet confirmed that these objects are joined together. Allison Coil, from the University of California in San Diego says “I don’t completely understand why they are connecting all of these features together to call them a single structure. There are clearly kinks and bends in this structure that don’t exist as in the Sloan Great Wall.”

Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii, who discovered the Laniakea cluster, says that determining what creates a single structure depends on your definition.

A thicker section of galaxies is traditional, he says, and certainly the new wall contains five times as many galaxies as an average patch of sky. But tracing whether the galaxies are moving together – impossible, given how far away they are – might give a different answer.

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