Space, the final frontier … you know the rest. There are a lot of big objects out there in the vacuum of space, and astronomers have something to tell you.
The largest known object in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores spanning 4 billion light-years from end to end, has been discovered.
The structure is a large quasar group (LQG), a collection of super-bright galactic nuclei powered by super-massive central black holes. This particular group is immense enough that it challenges modern theory, says FOX News.
Author Roger Clowes, of the University of Central Lancashire in England, states:
“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe. This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe.”
Quasars are the most luminous objects in the universe. Astronomers have known for decades that they tend to assemble in massive groups, some more than 600 million light-years wide. The Huffington Post states that the newly discovered LQC is composed of 73 quasars and measures approximately 1.6 billion light-years in most directions, and spans 4 billion light-years across at its greatest.
In simpler terms, this object is beyond huge. Calculations based on previous theory suggest that structures larger than about one and a quarter billion light-years should not exist, researchers said. They were obviously wrong.
“Our team has been looking at similar cases which add further weight to this challenge, and we will be continuing to investigate these fascinating phenomena.”
The new study was published January 11 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.