Science

The Milky Way Galaxy Resides in the Biggest Void in the Universe

By | Jun 07, 2017 07:20 PM EDT
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Void

Structures, including voids, in the Universe as shown by the Planck mission.(Photo : NASA)

Yes, we (meaning our Earth, or solar system and our Milky Way galaxy) exist in the largest known void -- or "nothingness" -- in the entire Universe.

Recent studies have confirmed this once controversial theory suggested in 2013 by an observational study, which contended the Milky Way resides in a very large void. Recent research presented at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, however, confirms these findings.

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It also revealed the void containing the Milky Way is about seven times as large as the average void in the universe. This makes the void we exist in the largest void in the Universe known to science.

Scientists analyzing the structures of the Universe suggest the Milky Way is a void shaped like a sphere with a shell of increasing thickness made up of galaxies, stars and other matter. This void is estimated to have a diameter of 1 billion light years.

Voids, or more accurately, cosmic voids, are vast spaces between filaments (the largest-scale structures in the Universe), which contain very few or no galaxies. Voids typically have a diameter of 10 megaparsecs  (Mpc) to 100 megaparsecs.

Voids have less than one-tenth of the average density of matter abundance that is considered typical for the observable Universe. They're vast, largely spherical regions with very low cosmic mean densities, up to 100 Mpc in diameter.

Voids were first discovered in 1978 in a pioneering study by Stephen Gregory and Laird A. Thompson at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

"The new analysis shows that there are no current observational obstacles to the conclusion that the Milky Way resides in a very large void," said Amy Barger, University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomer.

The structure of our Universe can be broken down into two main structural components: voids and walls, or regions that contain the typical cosmic mean density of matter abundance. 


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