Astronomers have come across a humongous structure in the distant universe which they believe is up to one million, billion times larger than our sun.
The supermassive object, called Hyperion, isn’t a massive alien structure for those wondering, although its name derives from Greek Mythology: Hyperion was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) who, led by Cronus, overthrew their father Uranus and were themselves later overthrown by the Olympians.
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Hyperion is a proto-supercluster of galaxies that were created around 2.3 billion years after the universe came into existence when the cosmos was still in its early, young stages.
Experts say that it is quite surprising that such an object was formed in the early universe given Hyperion’s mass and size.
The gigantic structure was discovered using the IMOS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope.
The team of scientists who discovered the massive proto-supercluster argue that it is the most massive structure from this early in the universe.
Speaking about the discovery, Olga Cucciati explained that “This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang.”
‘Normally these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the Universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things. It was a surprise to see something this evolved when the Universe was relatively young,” she added.
Located in the Constellation Sextans, Hyperion greatly differs from nearby superclusters of similar size mostly thanks to its incredible complexity.
Scientists argue how the structure is home to at least seven high-density regions that are interconnected through filaments of galaxies.
Brian Lemaux, an astronomer from the University of California, Davis, and LAM explains that “Superclusters closer to Earth tend to a much more concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural features.”
“However, in Hyperion, the mass is distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs, populated by loose associations of galaxies,” added Lemaux.
But astronomers say that they might now why Hyperion is so unusually big, and the answer lies in its formation at a time when the universe was extremely young.
Other nearby clusters developed through billions of years as they slowly pulled matter close together. However, Hyperion’s formation took place over a much shorter period in time.
Experts believe that eventually, Hyperion will turn into a structure similar to other large objects that have been identified in the universe like the superclusters in the Sloan Great Wall or the Virgo Supercluster, which is home to the Milky Way.
“Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future, and allows us the opportunity to challenge some models of supercluster formation,” Cucciati explained.
“Unearthing this cosmic titan helps uncover the history of these large-scale structures.”