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Meet the BOSS, the Largest Structure in the Universe

Astronomers recently discovered a wall of galaxies 1 billion light years across, larger than anything else yet identified in the cosmos

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The English language has a few limitations. One such problem is describing size—words like big, humongous and immense don’t come close to describing the objects astronomers are discovering in deep space. There are definitely no words to describe their latest find, dubbed the BOSS Great Wall, which is a supercluster of galaxies over 1 billion light years across, making it the largest structure observed in the universe so far.

The BOSS is named after the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey—an international effort to map galaxies and quasars in the early universe—and is like cosmic webbing. This wall is made up of 830 separate galaxies that gravity has corralled into four superclusters, connected by massive filaments of hot gas, Joshua Sokol reports for New Scientist. This creates a twisting structure that resembles a cosmic honeycomb.

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“On the grandest scales, the universe resembles a cosmic web of matter surrounding empty voids – and these walls are the thickest threads, ” he writes.

Lurking 4.5 to 6.5 billion light years away, the BOSS has an estimated mass 10, 000 times greater than our own Milky Way and recently described the find in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Read the full story at Smithsonian magazine, by Jason Daley

 

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