Astronomers who have mapped the Cosmos found that our Milky Way Galaxy represents a droplet. The huge structure which the researchers have christened the Laniakea Supercluster stretches for more than 500 million light-years and contains 100,000 large galaxies.
Astronomers have for the first time traced our local supercluster in such a large scale and their work was published in the September 4 Nature.
For decades, researchers have been trying to work out the gravitational structure of our local universe. The works of Gerard de Vaucouleurs in the 1950s postulated that our galaxy was on the edge of the so-called Local Supercluster, a structure about 100 million light-years wide that’s centered on the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.
The latest map of our region reveals that our Milky Way Galaxy is situated in a vast supercluster of galaxies, which astronomers have dubbed ‘Laniakea.’It means Hawaiian for “immeasurable heaven”. The latest cosmic map gives the astronomers a look at the outer limits of the gigantic supercluster which is the home to our Milky Way Galaxy.
However scientists are suggesting that the newly discovered Laniakea supercluster of galaxies could be a part of a larger structure which has not been defined.
Lead study author Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Honolulu “We live in something called ‘the cosmic web,’ where galaxies are connected in tendrils separated by giant voids.”
It is now known that Galaxies are not spread indiscriminately across the universe but clump together in Local Groups which could contain dozens of Galaxies. The groups themselves are part of massive clusters which are made-up of hundreds of galaxies, all intertwined in a web of filaments with the galaxies strung as pearls. Super clusters form at the intersections of filaments
Tully said, “We have a new way of defining large-scale structures from the velocities of galaxies rather than just looking at their distribution in the sky.”
The universe is made of giant structures which often do not have clear cut boundaries. Each galaxy belongs to the structure whose gravity is making it flow toward.