Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterSuperclusters, one of the largest structures in the Universe are each home to clumps of galaxies known as galaxy groups and clusters. Galaxy groups are composed of up to 50 galaxies, while clusters can contain thousands.
What you see above is a map of the Universe within 1 billion light years. It shows the Virgo Supercluster at the center and its neighboring superclusters, clusters, and voids. The white clouds are the superclusters and clusters while the vast black areas are the voids.
Virgo Supercluster (Virgo SC) is also known as the Local Supercluster (LSC or LS), simply because it is where our very own Milky Way Galaxy and immediate neighbor Andromeda belong.
Let me give you some size comparisons to give you an idea how large an area this image spans.
The Virgo Supercluster, at the center, is about 100 million light years wide; just one-tenths of this map. Our Milky Way, long believed to be the entire universe until Edwin Hubble pointed out nebulae far outside the borders of our galaxy, has a diameter of only 100,000 light years. Finally, our Solar System is believed to be only 2 light years wide.
All these galaxies are moving at tremendous speeds. It’s therefore a wonder that they still manage to be clumped together. This phenomena has prompted scientists to suspect the presence of an unseen entity now dubbed as dark matter. Dark matter is believed to be massive enough to provide attractive gravitational forces that leave the galaxies clumped together.
Aside form their high velocities within their superclusters, galaxies are also known to be speeding away from each other. As a matter of fact, the most distant galaxies are known to be travelling away from us at speeds close to that of light’s. Basically, it means that the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate.
Once again, the only logical explanation at this point is the possible presence of another invisible entity that might be providing the repulsive force. This entity is known as dark energy.
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