Saturday, August 25, 2007

Big Empty Cold Spot Found in the Universe

From the BBC:

Astronomers have found an enormous void in space that measures nearly a billion light-years across.

It is empty of both normal matter - such as galaxies and stars - and the mysterious "dark matter" that cannot be seen directly with telescopes. The "hole" is located in the direction of the Eridanus constellation and has been identified in data from a survey of the sky made at radio wavelengths. The discovery will be reported in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal.
Previous sky surveys that have traced the large-scale structure of the nearby Universe have long shown, for example, how the clustering of galaxies is strung into vast filaments and sheets that are separated by great gaps.

But the void discovered by a University of Minnesota team is about 1,000 times the volume of what would be expected in typical cosmic gaps. "It's hard even for astronomers to picture how big these things are," conceded Minnesota's Professor Lawrence Rudnick. "If you were to travel at the speed of light, it would take you several years to get to the nearest stars in our own Milky Way galaxy; but if you were to go to this hole and enter one side, you'd have to travel for a billion years before you would get to the other side," he told BBC News. The void is roughly 6-10 billion light-years away and takes a sizable chunk out of the visible Universe in its direction.

There is more to the story. It goes on to explain that they found this because it corresponds to a "cold spot" from the CMB. They pointed the VLA towards this spot and were unable to detect any matter, light or dark. They think it has to do with dark energy. The originating paper that will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. You can find it here (arXiv).

1 comment:

  1. This will defiantly receive a lot of attention I bet. A major "hiccup" in the early quantum fields may gives clues about the initial conditions of the universe.


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