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Astronomers Discover Largest Structure In the Universe

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the biggest-there-is dept.

Space 143

KentuckyFC writes "Until now, the largest known structure in the Universe was the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group), a cluster of 73 quasars stretching over a distance of 4 billion light years. Now astronomers say they've spotted something even bigger in data from gamma ray bursts, the final explosions of energy released by stars as they die and the universe's most energetic events. Astronomers have measured the distance to 283 of these bursts and mapped their position in the universe. This throws up a surprise. At a distance of ten billion light years, there are more gamma ray bursts than expected if they were evenly distributed throughout the universe. This implies the existence of a structure at this distance that is about ten billion light years across and so dwarfs the Huge-LQG. What's odd about the discovery is that the Cosmological principle--one of the fundamental tenets of cosmology--holds that the distribution of matter in the universe will appear uniform if viewed at a large enough scale. And yet, structures clearly emerge at every scale astronomers can see. The new discovery doesn't disprove the principle but it does provide some interesting food for thought for theorists."

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Turtles, all the way up! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430729)

Maybe we're at the bottom of the turtles after all?

Re:Turtles, all the way up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431417)

Don't know about that, maybe we just can't look at tiny enough particles to see it's turtles all the way down also? Who know what's inside quarks?

Re:Turtles, all the way up! (3, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45431503)

Don't know about that, maybe we just can't look at tiny enough particles to see it's turtles all the way down also? Who know what's inside quarks?

Very very very old clams.

Re:Turtles, all the way up! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45433575)

Who know what's inside quarks?

Some dabo tables and holodecks for starters.

Re:Turtles, all the way up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431591)

There are some turtles below us... Some scale in a fun way: http://htwins.net/scale2/

The universe is lumpy (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#45430739)

Like carelessly made Cream of Wheat.

Re:The universe is lumpy (2)

Black LED (1957016) | about a year ago | (#45430871)

Good Cream of Wheat should be lumpy.

Re:The universe is lumpy (3, Funny)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year ago | (#45431115)

Isn't Kareem of Wheat what Buckwheat changed his name to after converting to Islam?

Re:The universe is lumpy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431751)

THat's the short version, but technically it was Yusef Mohammed Karim bin Al-Bukwiti Shabam Blujeanie Haro.

Re:The universe is lumpy (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about a year ago | (#45431903)

No, more like the cellulite riddled butt cheek of a MILF.

Re:The universe is lumpy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432629)

So what are the zits? Supernovae?

Enter Metaphysics (5, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#45430743)

The real importance of such observations and discoveries lies not in their ability to test existing hypothesis but in furthering our ability to form new ones.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (2)

atomicxblue (1077017) | about a year ago | (#45430981)

I don't have mod points today, so take a virtual +1 Insightful

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about a year ago | (#45432159)

This is as oppsed to the physical +1 Insightful atomicxblue would be sending you in the mail on a normal day.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1)

asliarun (636603) | about a year ago | (#45433757)

This is as oppsed to the physical +1 Insightful atomicxblue would be sending you in the mail on a normal day.

Do you think that keyboard you are holding is ... real?

Hmmm.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45431027)

By forming new ones, I presume you mean taking a collection of some random radio emissions scattered around the universe and arbitrarily deciding they are a "structure"?

Re:Enter Metaphysics (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45431111)

Given that we have a relatively well developed mathematical articulation of 'random', and the likelihood of various outcomes arising from a random distribution, it should presumably be possible to determine that a given observed outcome is more or less probable as the result of a random distribution. That doesn't necessarily supply any causal suspicion of having arisen other than randomly; but it's still measurable.

"Structure" seems like a poor word, given the heavy connotations of purposeful design or systemic interaction; but choosing a statistical cut-off and taking particular interest in outcomes less probable than that, given the assumptions about the underlying distribution, is in principle sound enough(though it may simply mean that an improbable outcome happened, rather than that the assumptions about the underlying distribution were wrong).

It's like watching the payouts of N slot machines over the course of an evening: If you know, or have a hypothesis, about the odds of the game, you can tell how far a given outcome deviates from the expected distribution, though even observing an extraordinarily unlikely one cannot prove that the game was being rigged, though it can suggest it strongly enough to send you looking for clues in that direction.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#45431853)

I'd like to propose a "hypothesis" that the reason we see these anomalous structures where we should be seeing more randomness would also explain some anomalies we currently blame on dark matter; the influence via gravity of either other dimensions, or extra-Universe objects (basically, other Universes not directly tied to our own). It would mean Gravity is also an "extra dimensional" force or particle that isn't normally observable in our Space/Time.

I'm not totally convinced of this hypothesis -- but I think it's worth throwing it in there, because I think that the early Universe models are probably quite good, and these superstructures should not exist except for forces we are not yet currently aware of.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45433093)

I'm no cosmologist, so I have no comment there; but the difficultly of looking at what is basically a black box (almost 300 objects at 10 billion light years? Voyager might be a few years away...) statistically is somewhat maddening.

Even a trivially simplified case (say I have a coin, that I allege is fair, and you get to flip it as many times as you want before deciding if you believe me) cannot be decided with certainty. Any finite sequence of flips is equally likely as any other (though sequences that are approximately 50/50 should be overwhelmingly more common if the coin is in fact fair, I have no idea how the behavior changes if you choose infinitely many flips), and you can only gain greater or lesser doubt in the fairness of my coin.

For a much more complex phenomenon, like the origin of the universe, deciding whether you are simply looking at an improbable; but perfectly possible, local perturbation, or whether there is some 'tilt' in the system not covered by current accounts... It's a mathematically cogent exercise; but 'mathematically cogent' and 'easy' are very, very, very different things.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431477)

How is this different from you seeing "structures" such as your keyboard in front of you by "random" EM emissions scattered around the room?

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#45431037)

But it does test our existing hypothesis. It disconfirms that at a scale of 10 billion light years, matter in the universe is uniformly distributed. If you're into Bayesian epistemology, this means confidence in the Cosmological principle has just been adjusted downwards because of the evidence that has been discovered.

It is of course also important in the formulation of new hypotheses, as you rightly point out, but to imply the one is more important than the other is simply untrue.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (1)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#45431573)

I never said it didn't form a test, and I would not hesitate to imply that original thinking in pondering the unknown is always intrinsically more important than endlessly testing the ostensibly "known". Of course, YMMV.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431269)

It is, indeed, rather disconcerting seeing how many people touting the absolute primacy of scientific method in metaphysics, do not grasp that scientific method has no defined process by which to generate the hypotheses for an application of it. It is not, by any means, a self-contained algorithm.

Re:Enter Metaphysics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432333)

Uh, so science isn't self-correcting after all? You mean I've been lied to all these years????? Just paper over the mistakes and move on??? My idealistic world is shattered.

And I should care? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430749)

Why don't they spend the money instead to fix Dear Leader's Obamacare web site?

Your tax dollars at work.

Re: And I should care? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430777)

Probably because they're Hungarian

Re: And I should care? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | about a year ago | (#45432931)

If I only had mod points for you. :)

What, again? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | about a year ago | (#45430781)

It wasn't such a long time since they discovered the (now second) largest before, was it?

Re:What, again? (5, Informative)

mynamestolen (2566945) | about a year ago | (#45430849)

1989
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CfA2_Great_Wall [wikipedia.org]
The Great Wall (also called Coma Wall), sometimes specifically referred to as the CfA2 Great Wall, is one of the largest known superstructures in the Universe, (the largest being the Huge-LQG). It is a filament of galaxies approximately 200 million light-years away and has dimensions which measure over 500 million light-years long, 300 million light-years wide and 16 million light-years thick, and includes the Hercules Supercluster, the Coma Supercluster and the Leo Cluster.[1]
It was discovered in 1989 by Margaret Geller and John Huchra based on redshift survey data from the CfA Redshift Survey.

Re:What, again? (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#45430885)

That was superceded 14 years later by the Sloan Great Wall: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloan_Great_Wall [wikipedia.org]

Re:What, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431543)

From TFA:

Earlier this year, they spotted a larger structure in the constellation of Leo called the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group) . This consists of 73 quasars stretching over a distance of 4 billion light years.

OTOH, Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] states that the Huge-LQG was discovered in November 2012, which makes it exactly a year since the last record breakage.

Re:What, again? (1)

dwater (72834) | about a year ago | (#45431101)

They didn't discover the largest before; they were just wrong in thinking it was the largest, just like they probably are this time. It's just arrogance to claim it is the largest when one hasn't yet examined the *entire* universe.

Re:What, again? (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#45431697)

And that's why they say it's the largest known.

Re:What, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431807)

"Pffft! Whatever!"

And yet, were it to be more explicitly qualified that way, people say SEE? SEE! SCIENCE DOESN'T KNOW EVERYTHING!

Sometimes you can't win with these fuckers.

quasardilla supreme (-1, Troll)

tstur (38065) | about a year ago | (#45430799)

So you're trying to tell me that something the scientific community thought was well understood (a la global warming, evolution) turns out to be in question?

Re:quasardilla supreme (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430935)

Thats what science is all about...

Re: quasardilla supreme (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430973)

The only thing absolute about scientific discoveries is that people like you will always try use new theories & discoveries to undermine previous theories & discoveries that you can't understand, won't accept or conflict with your religious or political views.

Just because you don't like them doesn't mean they're not true.

Re:quasardilla supreme (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45430977)

Yes.

But don't worry, most people stupid enough not to understand that it's still better to try follow the scientific method than to just invent concepts and believe them, don't read Slashdot. so it won't be us who'll have to deal with them.

Re:quasardilla supreme (5, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#45431069)

Science is the systematic observation of everything in our world and universe; it is the best and most successful way we have discovered for determining what is true and what is not. That does not mean that it cannot make mistakes, but it does mean that mistakes can be noticed, making it a self-correcting process, trudging ever forward towards greater accuracy and understanding. Pointing out that science makes mistakes is pointing out a part of how the scientific process works and achieves progress; it's not a bane, it's a boon.

Re:quasardilla supreme (2)

tstur (38065) | about a year ago | (#45431129)

Yep, if only that were widely understood... I'd like to see more things prefaced with, "Here's what we think we know as of today..." in order to help the larger population realize it's good to question things and continue researching, developing, and exploring. Often the first whack or two are not particularly correct.

Re:quasardilla supreme (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431291)

And the assumption that all of these corrected errors will ultimately lead to truth that requires no further correction, is a conjecture based on sheer faith.

Re:quasardilla supreme (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#45431329)

That's true, which is why I'm not making it. I don't adhere to Popper's views on the philosophy of science in the main, but I think the idea of verisimilitude (we're only ever approaching reality closer and closer, but may never get 100% accurate descriptions) is spot on. Science is for claims about accuracy, and predictive and explanatory power. The Truth is in the domain of metaphysics.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431537)

In which case why does your explanation of science contain the phrase "determining what is true and what is not"? Two posts ago the truth was the domain of science and now it's just the domain of metaphysics? Funny how inconsistent people get about the power of science when pushed.

Meanwhile Dawkins is so confident of the *truth* of his extrapolatory creation myth that he feels the need to call believers of any other extrapolatory creation myth "deluded" ... while the details of his myth get rewritten every 5-10 years.

What a funny game this is. I thought we were just making models.

Re:quasardilla supreme (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#45431589)

And then I expanded upon my conception of truth as I used it there later with the part about achieving greater accuracy. However, since I realize that this is not necessarily the standard idea of The Truth as others might conceive of it, I then made my views explicit in the follow-up by distinguishing those two conceptions of truth.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432547)

So science is not truth? But metaphysical? The witch-doctor wins in the end? How pessimistic.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431509)

Problem is the "science" of cosmology is not the same "science" as the "science" of "the best and most successful way we have discovered for determining what is true and what is not".

Re:quasardilla supreme (2)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#45431835)

I just think it's ironic that people have to state "what science is" on Slashdot. I'm not criticizing the practice -- I'm concerned by how much we NEED to inform people of WHY science is good, even if it is never settled, and what the scientific process is.

This is just sad. This is a culture in decline. Forget about Rock Music, long hair, tattoos -- whatever shocking thing the next generation comes up with; SCIENCE is one of the first targets of a society in decline.

Of course, anyone I have to explain this to based on historical examples is probably also someone who has been told why science is necessary and important and still doesn't get it. *sigh*

Re:quasardilla supreme (3, Interesting)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about a year ago | (#45432323)

One mind numbing possibility is that the laws of physics may change depending upon location in the universe. Drawing conclusions by observation of remote objects and events may it self be irrational.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432523)

BS... for every enlightened age of man there has been an age where the witchdoctor has ruled. What we deem to see and notate now, may not make it to the next generation in a recordable form or be understood by the "great" minds of the future.

"enlightened age of man"? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#45433667)

We never had that.
At best, we had precious few enlightened men during some ages. Everyone else always danced and still dances to the witchdoctor's drum.

Presently we are in an age where we have more enlightened men than ever before - but we also have a lot more witchdoctors and dancers.
But we did win a battle or two along the way.
E.g. You won't be burned at a stake for using a match or a lighter any more, or be accused of stealing someone's soul when taking a photo of them.
It adds up.

Couple of thousand years more and no one will believe in astrology anymore. Probably.

Re:quasardilla supreme (1)

utnapistim (931738) | about a year ago | (#45431617)

No; Something the scientific community thought was well understood is still thought to be well understood. We just have some more data.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432335)

You should be trying to tell yourself to read things closer.

Re:quasardilla supreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432671)

Welcome to the scientific method.

For lesson one, perhaps you should go to 7th grade again. Well, hopefully again.

God is great? (1, Flamebait)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45430813)

Who tagged this "godisgreat"? Is it a joke?

All this seems to suggest is that God cooks up lumpy pudding.

Re:God is great? (2)

Idetuxs (2456206) | about a year ago | (#45431257)

"yourmom"

Re:God is great? (0)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#45431513)

Who tagged this "godisgreat"? Is it a joke?

All this seems to suggest is that God cooks up lumpy pudding.

U MAD BRO?

Re:God is great? (1)

Aboroth (1841308) | about a year ago | (#45431521)

I don't see how it matters one way or another.

Re:God is great? (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#45431881)

Especially as it is 10 billion light years away from us, by the time the gamma rays and light have reach us, whatever was there, might not even exist anymore.

Re:God is great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431699)

Who tagged this "godisgreat"? Is it a joke?

All this seems to suggest is that God cooks up lumpy pudding.

Smooth pudding it terribly uninteresting. Can you imagine how dull the universe would be if it was identical at all scales.

Re:God is great? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#45432405)

All this seems to suggest is that God cooks up lumpy pudding.

That makes me feel a lot better about how my pudding turns out.

Random distribution (1, Insightful)

Andtalath (1074376) | about a year ago | (#45430853)

Random distribution means that lumps will form.

This is relatively obvious chaos theory.

Even more so when objects can grow closer due to huge centers of mass.
This might be how black holes start for all we know...

Re:Random distribution (5, Interesting)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#45430909)

Thank God we have people on Slashdot to tell us things like this. Where would we have been if generations of cosmologists were entirely ignorant of statistics or gravitational physics? The mind boggles!

Sorry, but the problem isn't that there are lumps - if there weren't our existence would be a bit suspect since we live on the edge of a reasonably large lump (the Virgo supercluster) ourselves. The problem (if you want to call it a problem; it's more an interesting question) concerns the *size* of the lumps. We can predict with reasonable certainty the probability of a bound structure of such and such a size appearing in the universe. That's quite straightforward in principle. And structures this big are pushing the bounds of the standard cosmological model quite hard; basically, they shouldn't really be there. I don't know the actual probability but it's extremely low, and low enough that we would not expect to see it. That there are now three structures that are rather too large (this one, if it comes to be accepted as a genuine structure; the Sloan great wall, if it turns out to actually be a structure; and the CfA great wall) is getting interesting.

Re:Random distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432379)

If everything originally came from a Big Bang, then wouldn't that be the biggest lump of them all. Outside of that lump is nothing, inside of it is everything. The smaller lumps inside the big lump are what we are looking at.

Re:Random distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431061)

This is the first time I have heard about that Cosmological principle. The detected mass distribution of the Universe have been at odds for a long time with an even distribution. It's actually more like the lumpy tree structure in that recent popular documentary about the ancient Gods of the North. Of course if our Universe is a surviving point in somebody's really inexpensive Korean 27 inch 1440p screen, then the principle might hold for normal viewing distances.

Re:Random distribution (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#45431201)

Yeah, said principle seems to be an ass-pull to me. I'd have expected the universe to be evenly self-similar on a large enough scale, but not perfectly even and homogeneous.

Define a structure... (2)

John Stock (3421943) | about a year ago | (#45430945)

These bunch of gamma ray bursts, are they in any way related to each other than in form?

Re:Define a structure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431631)

Well, most GRBs probably come from the collapse of a very big star to become a black hole. If the universe had no further structure at very large scales the distribution of these stars that explode violently enough to produce a gamma ray burst would have been different, more evenly distributed. The observed distribution in space however seems to indicate that there's some sort of pattern that indicates a vast structure. They use GRBs because they are the most violent known events in the universe, and thus are easy to see even across billions of light years.

Distribution in distance or time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45430987)

These bursts would have all happened 10 billion years ago. What's to say they weren't common all over at that time?

Re:Distribution in distance or time? (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year ago | (#45431067)

The observation that we are not seeing them commonly appearing across the universe at a distance of some 10 billion light years.

Re:Distribution in distance or time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431601)

What kind of reply is that? The summary says the opposite ("At a distance of ten billion light years, there are more gamma ray bursts than expected if they were evenly distributed throughout the universe.") and even then that statement doesn't address the parent's question at all. The question is: if aliens did the same measurement far away, would they see a sphere-like structure centered around us or around them?

Re:Distribution in distance or time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431859)

It doesn't matter how common they were at the time: that's not the point. The hypernovae are used as standard candles to determine how far away their parent galaxies are, and that's how they deduce that ther must be some massive structure out there.

Fractal Cosmology (0)

DrJimbo (594231) | about a year ago | (#45431013)

I first heard about the idea of Fractal cosmology [wikipedia.org] in Mandelbrot's book from 1982, The Fractal Geometry of Nature. The idea is quite simple: there is structure at every scale in the Universe, at least up to some cutoff.

It is kind of funny that some people are surprised when structure is discovered at larger and larger scales as we are able to make observations at longer and longer distance scales. It is much more sensible to expect to see more structure as we see more of the Universe instead of the more common (and hubristic) expectation that we have already seen all the structure there is to see.

Re:Fractal Cosmology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431073)

Fractals and the universe as a whole seem to have a certain self-organization principle, seems rather uncanny given the number of "finely-tuned" cosmological constants.

Re:Fractal Cosmology (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#45431427)

The surprise here is that the cutoff is so big.

Re:Fractal Cosmology (2)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year ago | (#45431457)

"That which is above is as that which is below and that which is below is as that which is above, for the purposes of the workings of the one thing."
-- very very old.

Re:Fractal Cosmology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432107)

I was going to say something similar. I don't know what it is about the current theories that make them believe that the universe is uniform, but fractals have been found to be involved in the formation of many structures in nature. So rather than looking deeper into the fractal at smaller scales as we usually do, we have to look out at bigger and bigger scales to see the fractal nature of the universe. And in a way, if everything is fractal then it is uniform. Unless they actually mean homogeneous because uniform can mean the same at different places, and in this case, at different scales.

"the largest in the universe?" (1)

master_p (608214) | about a year ago | (#45431053)

That's what she said!!!

(that's what you get from watching The Office).

Prefid naming scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431081)

Can we call it the Giant-Huge-Large-Quasar-Group?

Arrogant much? (1)

dwater (72834) | about a year ago | (#45431141)

Are they really that arrogant? Perhaps they just don't know English too well.

I mean, iinm, they previously claimed they had discovered the largest and now they claim it again. There is only *one* largest - it makes no difference if you know about it or not. If you find something new that is larger than what you thought was the largest, then all you have proved is that you were previously wrong. To then claim that the new thing is the largest is arrogant.

How about adding some words to fix it, like 'known' or 'probably'?

I *suppose* there might be some way to *prove* (or otherwise justify) such confidence. For example, if they know the entire volume of the universe and the newly discovered one takes up more than half, then it would seem reasonable to assume that it is the largest.

yo mama ... (1)

ExKoopaTroopa (671002) | about a year ago | (#45431157)

Cue the yo mama jokes

not a structure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431301)

All it means that 10 billion years ago there were more GRB's, for whatever reason. That does not imply a structure.

Re:not a structure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431565)

All it means that 10 billion years ago there were more GRB's, for whatever reason. That does not imply a structure.

That would be true if they were all over the place, but they're all in (approximately) one direction.

captcha: detect

Sachin Tendulkar (0)

shimul1990 (3413815) | about a year ago | (#45431337)

Sachin Tendulkar is the most valuable person in the cricket world now a days.

Size of universe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431349)

If this is 10 billion light years away and 10 billion light years across, wouldn't that make the universe at least 20 billion years old, or at least considerably larger than we think it is now? The universe was smaller in the past, but when it was about 3 billion years old would it have been large enough to hold something of this size?

Re:Size of universe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45431763)

If this is 10 billion light years away and 10 billion light years across, wouldn't that make the universe at least 20 billion years old, or at least considerably larger than we think it is now?

Given that the observable universe is about 46 billion light years in radius [wikipedia.org] , 10 billion light years across fits just fine.

The universe was smaller in the past

And that thing was smaller too.

Re:Size of universe? (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year ago | (#45432359)

I think the universe expands faster than light. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Re:Size of universe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45433371)

I think the universe expands faster than light. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.

The universe expands uniformly. The observed movement of two objects away from each other due to expansion is directly proportionate to their distance. At sufficiently large distances it is faster than light, however at smaller distances it is much slower (unnoticeable at the scale of a single galaxy).

amazing (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#45431377)

It's amazing what we think we "know", by trying to interpret the electromagnetic radiation that falls on us.

Next week: more amazing complete revisions of what we "know".

Then again.... (1)

meglon (1001833) | about a year ago | (#45431433)

What's odd about the discovery is that the Cosmological principle--one of the fundamental tenets of cosmology--holds that the distribution of matter in the universe will appear uniform if viewed at a large enough scale. And yet, structures clearly emerge at every scale astronomers can see.

Beings as we can only ever see a very small fraction of the universe, and don't even know how big it is in its entirety, it's certainly possible we simply can't view a large enough area for the distribution to "even out."

Why are the surprised? (3, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year ago | (#45431649)

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.
- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Re:Why are the surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432889)

Tumblr science everyone.

Why "there are"? (1)

jopet (538074) | about a year ago | (#45431857)

What I never inderstand about articles that talk about very distant objects: they always use "are" as if this large structure would be there now, when, if at all and we interpret the data correctly, it was there billions of years ago. Something that "stretches" over 4 billion ligth years may also (depending on in which direction it stretches) also stretch over a time span of at least 4 billion years.
It is weird to think that what we see is not our universe at all: it is a picture that is a collage of times of what the universe was.

But what does it mean about our understanding of the universe now? Obviously we have no idea if Quasars "exist" -- the ones we observed so far are at least 600 million years away and thus have existed 600 million years ago.

600 Million years is a very long time. But 10 billion years is much closer to the beginning of the universe than to now. Does this make the violation of that "principle" then even more or qutie less significant?

Re:Why "there are"? (2)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about a year ago | (#45432087)

Since we sit in the light cone for the event currently, to us it does exist now, as it's state 10 billion years ago/10 billion light years away can causely affect us, but not its state 999,999,999 years ago and 10 billion + light years away.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_cone [wikipedia.org]

Why are the surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432461)

Structures at every scale? Sounds fractal to me..consistent with nature's other patterns.

Still smaller than... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45432541)

...the structure of the universe itself. Which is smaller than the collection of universes in the multiverse. Which is smaller than... Hey! Look! A turtle!

Could it be the multiverse that's uniform? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | about a year ago | (#45432951)

If there's structure everywhere we look in the universe, maybe it's the multiverse that's uniform. (Disclaimer: I'm not a scientist of any type. I'm just thinking out loud here.)

How is this a 'structure'? (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#45433527)

Is it simply the fact that these objects are all relatively closer to each other that expected? Do they interact in any fashion, or were they all formed at the same time and/or from the same source?

.

Ummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45433609)

Reading the article are they saying they have possible secondary evidence of large universal structures beyond our observable (through conventional means due to red shift) universe? Kind of like the few anomalous galactic cluster movements that we have seen running counter to what we expect given what we can see in the universe?

Isn't this another possible indication that a good deal of the missing mass that we are looking for is simply too far away to see?

Cool. More data.

-Tim Hare

Bazinga. (1)

ihtoit (3393327) | about a year ago | (#45433895)

the distribution of matter in the universe is uniform if you view it on the scale of the entire universe. Which, if held to be infinite, definitively proves the theory.

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