Astronomers Have Just Discovered A Structure That Is Almost Unfathomably Large 😮

Scientists in Chile have uncovered what may be one of the oldest and largest structures in our universe. 

Gazing in to the Sextans constellation, astronomers at the European Southern Observatory discovered an extensive array of galaxies grouped together in a “proto-supercluster.” 

Named Hyperion after the titan of Greek mythology, the supercluster is estimated to have a collective mass that’s a million, billion times larger than our sun.

The international astronomical team, led by Olga Cucciati from the National Institute of Astrophysics, found Hyperion using previous data from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and observations from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island.   

Because of the time it took the light from Hyperion to reach our galaxy, what scientists were observing was Hyperion as it existed just 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang, which occurred 13.7 billions years ago. That makes Hyperion one of our oldest views of the early Universe. 

While superclusters near Hyperion’s size are not uncommon in the universe, most formed after being pulled together by gravitational forces for billions of years. Astronomers were surprised to see such a large structure in the early universe. 

As Hyperion’s array of thousand of galaxies is still forming the astronomers classified it as a “proto-supercluster.” Other proto-supercluster have been observed, but scientists think Hyperion predates them by about three million years. 

Steffen Miefke, the chief of operations for the European Southern Observatory, said:

“These are galaxies very far from us, almost at the beginning of the universe, and allow us  to understand better how the universe evolved from the Big Bang until  the present day.”

For astronomers, discoveries like Hyperion present a valuable opportunity to learn more about the early universe. 

Being one quadrillion times the mass of our sun, Hyperions’ sheer size was too much for some to comprehend. 

It helped put a lot of other things into perspective. 

It’s hard not feel unbelievably small when looking out into the universe. 

While discoveries like Hyperion are exciting and important to building a better understanding of the universe, they also remind us just how much more we have left to learn. 

H/T – CBC, CNET