Astronomers Find Proto-Supercluster of Galaxies in Early Universe | Astronomy

James Marshall
October 20, 2018

'Hyperion is a sixth of the age of the universe.

The Hyperion proto-supercluster is the largest and most massive structure yet found at such a remote time and distance - about 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang.

The enormous proto-supercluster was found using the VIMOS instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope.

However, an unprecedented 3D map of the distribution of over 10 000 galaxies provided by the VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey has helped uncover this super-sized proto-supercluster.

It stands as the biggest structure ever to be found from the universe's early years. The scientists named this "proto-supercluster" Hyperion after a titan from Greek mythology.

An global team of astronomers have stumbled upon the largest and oldest galaxy supercluster found to date, measuring more than four quadrillion solar masses.

"Thanks to theory, we can infer some sort of evolution of the early universe ... and we have models that we infer how the evolution of the universe started", said Olga Cucciati of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) in Bologna, Italy, who is also the lead author of the study published on Wednesday in the Journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Cucciati and her team found the Hyperion proto-supercluster as it was forming in the equatorial constellation of Sextans.

"These are galaxies very far from us, nearly at the beginning of the universe, and allow us to understand better how the universe evolved from the Big Bang until the present day".

"Structures as large and complex as Hyperion had never been discovered at such distances, it wasn't clear that the universe was capable of making structures like this so early on in its history", Brian Lemaux, a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Davis, who helped discover Hyperion, told The Register today.

"But in Hyperion the weight distributed much more evenly in a series of related drops, inhabited by free associations of galaxies". In a reverse scenario to an ageing human body, Hyperion has yet to mature and let gravity pull matter together into denser regions. It's similar in size to superclusters closer to Earth (our home supercluster, Virgo, is thought to contain over 47,000 galaxies), although its structure is a bit different.

"Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the Universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future", Cucciati said. "Uncovering this vast titan reveals the historical backdrop of these huge scale structures", Cucciati included.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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