Great ‘cosmic nothingness’ found


VLA (NRAO/AUI)

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.

“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 sizeable chunk out of the visible Universe in its direction.

“In essence, this latest study gives us a very elegant demonstration of the existence of dark energy in a way which is very convincing,” commented Professor Carlos Frenk, the director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, UK.

“We keep getting evidence for dark energy, this component of the Universe which is so dominant, and yet we still have only a tiny glimmer of what it could be.”

The reason the void exists is not known. “That’s going to be a challenge for people that work on the development of structure in the Universe. It’s a very hot topic in the cosmology right now,” said Professor Rudnick.

(via BBC News)

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