The biggest supercluster of the galaxies in the universe has been discovered near the Milky Way by an international team of astronomers.
The Vela supercluster previously went undetected as stars and dust in Milky Way engulfed it, Researchers, including those from Australian National University (ANU), said. It was a huge mass responsible for influencing our galaxy, they added.
“This is one of the biggest concentrations of galaxies in the universe - possibly the biggest in the neighbourhood of our galaxy, but that will need to be confirmed by further study,” said Professor Matthew Colless from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
“The gravity of the Vela supercluster may explain the difference between the measured motion of the Milky Way through space and the motion predicted from the distribution of previously mapped galaxies,” said Colless.
The Anglo-Australian Telescope was used by Colless to measure distances for many galaxies to confirm the predictions made earlier that Vela was a supercluster.
He also helped in estimating the effect of the supercluster on Milky Way’s motion. Astronomers based in South Africa, Australia and Europe were part of the research. Two new Australian surveys starting in 2017 will confirm the size of the Vela supercluster.
“The Taipan optical survey will measure galaxy distances over a bigger area around Vela, while the WALLABY radio survey will be able to peer through the densest parts of the Milky Way into the supercluster’s heart,” Colless said.
The research was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.