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.
— TheNationalNews (@NationalUKNews) October 18, 2018
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.
These numbers make my brain hurt! pic.twitter.com/flaVvaMAex
— Canadian Dave (@david_ducharme) October 18, 2018
Whenever an article states “one million billion” I take a knee because I know my brain can’t comprehend anything past that
— Keith Sweat (@PorckchopNixon) October 18, 2018
I can't barely (loosely) comprehend the size of our sun. pic.twitter.com/IN8KgkA5ol
— The People's MMA (@ThePeoplesMMA) October 18, 2018
Things like this make my heart flutter, and my brain implode.
— ･ ･ ･ ➺ . (@HarlotHologram) October 18, 2018
It helped put a lot of other things into perspective.
Truly Amazing… & here I was pouting because McDonald’s forgot the creamer in my coffee #perspective
— Nancy (@_nancy_sam) October 18, 2018
@theDJbread “the entire system weighs more than one million billion times the weight of our sun.” And im just sitting here eating a PB&J
— Danny Nelson (@CrispyDs) October 18, 2018
It’s hard not feel unbelievably small when looking out into the universe.
I always love news that lets us know how insignificant we are
— Spooky Sal (@SalMessina6) October 18, 2018
Amazing find and a reminder of how little we know (and how little we are)
— the triplet mom (@aTripletThing) October 18, 2018
It's amazing how everything is so big and we seem so small.
— Gage Croteau (@Gagecroteau1) October 18, 2018
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.
Great, and with all this we are dealing with only 5% of the universe.
— Eduardo Setti (@SettiEduardo) October 18, 2018