Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome to Laniakea

Cosmology is one of my favorite subjects. It is also a subject that isn't often in the new, or subject to bloggable topics. Today, however, news has broken that a cosmology mapping project and reached an amazing discovery. They have used several measurements to determine that the Milky Way, our local group, and the Virgo Cluster, are all part of a much larger structure they have named the Laniakea supercluster. Our galaxy is located on a dense spur that sticks out to one side.

Previously it was hard to tell where one group ended an another began leaving cosmologist to stick to the obvious clusters and groups, but with this, it is now possible to definitively assign each galaxy to a supercluster and actually see the structures and how they relate.

It is also interesting to see that we are located in a very dense region. The neighboring Perseus-Pisces supercluster appears to have some influence and may be the cause for the increased density.

Much of this is academic and does not appear to be of much use, but it furthers our understanding of the structure of the universe and through that, our understanding of the Big Bang. So while this might seem like something on such a scale that it is pointless, it could impact the theories of science that the next generation will build upon. So it is very exciting on several levels.

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