Laniakea: Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way

Sep 03, 2014
A slice of the Laniakea Supercluster in the supergalactic equatorial plane -- an imaginary plane containing many of the most massive clusters in this structure. The colors represent density within this slice, with red for high densities and blue for voids -- areas with relatively little matter. Individual galaxies are shown as white dots. Velocity flow streams within the region gravitationally dominated by Laniakea are shown in white, while dark blue flow lines are away from the Laniakea local basin of attraction. The orange contour encloses the outer limits of these streams, a diameter of about 160 Mpc. This region contains the mass of about 100 million billion suns. Credit: SDvision interactive visualization software by DP at CEA/Saclay, France.

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT)—among other telescopes—have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous supercluster of galaxies, which they have dubbed "Laniakea," which means "immense heaven" in Hawaiian.

This discovery clarifies the boundaries of our galactic neighborhood and establishes previously unrecognized linkages among various galaxy clusters in the local Universe.

"We have finally established the contours that define the supercluster of we can call home," said lead researcher R. Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "This is not unlike finding out for the first time that your hometown is actually part of much larger country that borders other nations."

The paper explaining this work is the cover story of the September 4 issue of the journal Nature.

Superclusters are among the largest structures in the known Universe. They are made up of groups, like our own Local Group, that contain dozens of galaxies, and massive clusters that contain hundreds of galaxies, all interconnected in a web of filaments. Though these structures are interconnected, they have poorly defined boundaries.

To better refine cosmic mapmaking, the researchers are proposing a new way to evaluate these large-scale galaxy structures by examining their impact on the motions of galaxies. A galaxy between structures will be caught in a gravitational tug-of-war in which the balance of the gravitational forces from the surrounding large-scale structures determines the galaxy's motion.

By using the GBT and other radio telescopes to map the velocities of galaxies throughout our local Universe, the team was able to define the region of space where each supercluster dominates. "Green Bank Telescope observations have played a significant role in the research leading to this new understanding of the limits and relationships among a number of superclusters," said Tully.

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Credit: Nature

The Milky Way resides in the outskirts of one such supercluster, whose extent has for the first time been carefully mapped using these new techniques. This so-called Laniakea Supercluster is 500 million light-years in diameter and contains the mass of one hundred million billion Suns spread across 100,000 galaxies.

This study also clarifies the role of the Great Attractor, a gravitational focal point in intergalactic space that influences the motion of our Local Group of galaxies and other galaxy clusters.

Two views of the Laniakea Supercluster. Credit: SDvision interactive visualization software by DP at CEA/Saclay, France

Within the boundaries of the Laniakea Supercluster, galaxy motions are directed inward, in the same way that water streams follow descending paths toward a valley. The Great Attractor region is a large flat bottom gravitational valley with a sphere of attraction that extends across the Laniakea Supercluster.

The name Laniakea was suggested by Nawa'a Napoleon, an associate professor of Hawaiian Language and chair of the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature at Kapiolani Community College, a part of the University of Hawaii system. The name honors Polynesian navigators who used knowledge of the heavens to voyage across the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.

Explore further: Where is Earth located in the galaxy?

More information: Nature, dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13674

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User comments : 14

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antigoracle
1 / 5 (15) Sep 03, 2014
So, are the galaxies doing the hula through space?
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (18) Sep 03, 2014
They are made up of groups, like our own Local Group, that contain dozens of galaxies, and massive clusters that contain hundreds of galaxies, all interconnected in a web of filaments.


Powered by an interconnected web of electric currents....
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2014
They are made up of groups, like our own Local Group, that contain dozens of galaxies, and massive clusters that contain hundreds of galaxies, all interconnected in a web of filaments.


Powered by an interconnected web of electric currents....

magnetic first...
TimBull
not rated yet Sep 04, 2014
Powered by an interconnected web of electric currents....

I would't have thought so. Maybe it's so big it hasn't had time to form a regular pattern after the first bout of supernovae.
Rufusaurus
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2014
Yeah, not so sure about that name. Can we come up with something a little more Greek?
Bob Osaka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2014
Edgier than the cutting edge. Fringe science. So now we know we're out on one of the outer spiral arms of the Milky Way, on the edge of Virgo cluster which turns out to be the outer edge of a much larger super-duper cluster: Laniakea, falling toward the Great Attractor. We're waiting in a very long line. "Now serving number 1," the prompter reads. Looking at our ticket, it says 99 something thousand. Wow.
No hurry though, the universe is at least 150 times larger than we are able to see. Might be like a big soap bubble and you know what happens when too many dust particle settle on a bubble. Pop!
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (11) Sep 04, 2014
sub; Heart mode Attraction
Prof R Brent Tully is a distinguished cosmologist. The present information
Laniakea Supercluster is 500 million light-years in diameter and contains the mass of one hundred million billion Suns spread across 100,000 galaxies.
My comments: Inadequate Data-The Heart and Center of the Universe links to Milky Way galactic Frame. From the Flower mode, the streams of Flows must be identified -get rid of the gravitational aproach. Dimensional knowledge and Electromagnetic Phenomena must drive from this zone in three Tiers.
See Plasma Regulated Electromagnetic phenomena in Magnetic Field Environment in Space Cosmology Vedas Interlinks. I welcome Interaction

ViperSRT3g
5 / 5 (7) Sep 04, 2014
sub; Heart mode Attraction
Prof R Brent Tully is a distinguished cosmologist. The present information
Laniakea Supercluster is 500 million light-years in diameter and contains the mass of one hundred million billion Suns spread across 100,000 galaxies.
My comments: Inadequate Data-The Heart and Center of the Universe links to Milky Way galactic Frame. From the Flower mode, the streams of Flows must be identified -get rid of the gravitational aproach. Dimensional knowledge and Electromagnetic Phenomena must drive from this zone in three Tiers.
See Plasma Regulated Electromagnetic phenomena in Magnetic Field Environment in Space Cosmology Vedas Interlinks. I welcome Interaction

None of that has anything to do with simply classifying galaxy clusters and groups together based on relative motion.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (6) Sep 04, 2014
So, are the galaxies doing the hula through space?


Only in your pathetic little mind.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2014
So gravity is "electricity and magnetism" now? The "Electric Universe" anti-scientists are getting weirder and weirder.

And of course even less believable, if possible.

Never mind that current cosmology is founded on general relativity (gravity), not the EM that can never rule the universe (since opposite charges shield each other)... Why can't they open a physics book, if they want to speculate about physics? :-/

@Bob: =D. Though IIRC the observable universe is more like 1/1000 of the smallest universe that fits observations. ("Over-fringe" science, how to see beyond what we see.)
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2014
So gravity is "electricity and magnetism" now?

Typical straw man by one who is truly anti-science.

Never mind that current cosmology is founded on general relativity (gravity)

Ummm, yep. That is obvious, and why just about every cosmology article includes some level of "surprise" and "unexpected" results. Also the reason why 96% of the Universe is "missing".

not the EM that can never rule the universe (since opposite charges shield each other)... Why can't they open a physics book, if they want to speculate about physics? :-/


Sadly, reality isn't as simple as you'd like it to be. The reality of "shielding" involves processes that create electric currents and fields which in turn create the magnetism which is so prevalent in the cosmos. Contrary to your beliefs, magnetism is not created by magic.
summerhike
not rated yet Sep 05, 2014
Excellent video. The more we learn, the punier we become. Amazing how humans can still have egos bigger than the universe but I guess you need one to have the courage to explore and learn more about where we are and where we came from.
Returners
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2014
Notice the similarity to shock waves in the 3-d models.

There's also a lot of similarity to magnetic field lines, and I'm not even an EU proponent.

Now think about this, r.e. epicycles, I mean Filaments.

The very observation of filaments suggests there are "preferred" locations for matter to be, which ought not be the case in a truly isotropic, flat universe. Moreover, galaxies don't just tend to be in collections, at random "forming" these filaments, but rather the filaments tend to define where galaxies can move. They move along filaments like giant inter-connected highways.

One must wonder what keeps the filaments in tact, if the universe has increased in size by orders of magnitude in it's history?

Voids due to expansion? Sure.

Semi-continuous filaments? Less likely.

Take a rubberband and lightly paint it black with a permanent marker. Now after it dries good and well, give it a pull. The black spreads out, and the white is exposed again.
Returners
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2014
Now if space-time were expanding, and it were expanding isotropically, we shouldn't see filaments, in my view, because the filaments should be broken along their length.

In my view, there needs to be a governing mechanism to keep these structures in tact, else they should have been ripped apart by an expansion on the scale cosmologists believe in.

It's as if galaxies are atoms/molecules in the walls of a sponge, and empty space is the voids in the sponge.

It's as though you can see an action, but not the material cause of the action, and this is clearly not the alleged Dark Matter.

Shockwave yes, but that doesn't look like Krauss's quantum gravitational waves at all. That looks like the lobes of certain exploding stars, which is also mediated by an electromagnetic field, which is a local event to be sure.

Not that I'm saying this is electromagnetism, but it could be something else entirely.

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