(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have discovered the first “bubble of galaxies,” an almost unimaginably huge cosmic structure believed to have formed just after the Big Bang.
The bubble extends over a billion light years, making it 10,000 times wider than the Milky Way galaxy.
However, this giant bubble, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, is relatively close, 820 million light years from our home galaxy.
The bubble can be thought of as “a spherical shell with a heart,” astrophysicist Daniel Pomared told AFP.
Inside this heart lies the Bootes Supercluster of galaxies, which is surrounded by a vast void, sometimes called the “Great Nothing.”
The shell contains several other superclusters of galaxies already known to science.
Pomared said the discovery of the bubble, described in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal this week, was part of a very long scientific process.
This confirms a phenomenon first described in 1970 by American cosmologist and future Nobel Prize winner in physics Jim Peebles.
He proposed that in the primordial Universe, which was then a mixture of hot plasma, the interaction of gravity and radiation created sound waves called baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO).
When sound waves passed through the plasma, they created bubbles. About 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the process stopped as the Universe cooled, freezing the shape of the bubbles.
The bubbles then grew larger as the universe expanded, similar to other fossilized remains from the aftermath of the Big Bang.
Astronomers previously discovered BAO signals in 2005 while looking at data from nearby galaxies.
But the newly discovered bubble is the first known single baryon acoustic oscillation, according to the researchers.
The astronomers named their bubble Ho’oleilana – “sent whisper of awakening” – taking the name from a Hawaiian song about the creation of the world.
The name was given by the study’s lead author Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii.
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