Home Science Space Astronomers Find Massive Superclusters of Galaxies Near the Milky Way

Astronomers Find Massive Superclusters of Galaxies Near the Milky Way

An international team of astronomers has found one of the largest superclusters of galaxies in the universe near the Milky Way. The supercluster has now been named the Vela supercluster. It has previously gone undetected, as it was hidden by the Milky Way’s stars and dust. It is also understood that its huge mass is influenced by the motion of the Milky Way.

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The white/blue image is the Milky Way, with the central bulge on the left and the plane of the disk running horizontally across the region; the yellow/green dots are the distribution of galaxies in the nearby universe; the Vela supercluster (VSC) region is indicated, running across the Galactic plane; also shown is the location of the Shapley supercluster (SC), the other massive structure in the nearby universe. (Image: ANU)

Professor Matthew Colless from the Australian National University (ANU), who was part of the team that made the discovery, said in a statement:

To confirm that the Vela supercluster was really a supercluster, Professor Colless used the Anglo-Australian Telescope to measure distances to many galaxies; by doing this, he was able to confirm earlier predictions that Vela was indeed a supercluster. He was also able to estimate the supercluster’s effect on the motion of the Milky Way.

The research involved astronomers from South Africa, Australia, and Europe. Two new Australian surveys that will start in 2017 will confirm the size of the Vela supercluster. Colless explained that:

The research has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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