Giant galactic structure discovered offering insight into the universe

Scientists from the University of Central Lancashire, UK, have spoken of a giant cosmic structure. Its size is so large that its very existence fundamentally shakes modern thinking about the universe. The Great Ring covers about 3% of the radius of the entire observable universe and may be part of an even larger structure. The Great Ring is a nearly perfectly circular group of galaxies and galaxy clusters about 1.3 billion light-years in diameter. When visible to the naked eye, it is the size of 15 full moons in the night sky. Traditionally, superclusters of galaxies were thought to be the largest and relatively widespread structures in the universe, with sizes exceeding hundreds of millions of light years. They can connect into threads that stretch over billions of years and form part of the web of the universe.

The Great Ring is not only larger than these objects, but larger than any other structure. There is a cosmological principle that is a fundamental part of space science, according to which the universe should appear uniform in all directions to all observers within it. Of course, there are random differences in the distribution of stars and galaxies, but at the largest scale they all merge into a homogeneous system. Cosmological principles place an upper limit on the size of any structure of 1.2 billion light-years, but the Great Ring clearly ignores this value. If it were an isolated discovery, it might be dismissed as an anomaly or a mistake, but the Great Ring is not the only “impossible” giant discovery, or even the biggest one. Two years ago, fellow astronomer Alexia Lopez from the University of Central Lancashire discovered a crescent-shaped structure 3.3 billion light-years long. It was called Giant Ark. In 2015, a gigantic GRB ring with a diameter of 5.6 billion light years was discovered. And although the Great Wall of Hercules, the Northern Crown, is his galactic thread stretching over 10 billion light years, its status as a single structure remains debatable.

Even weirder, the Great Ring and the Giant Ark are in the same part of the sky and about the same distance from Earth, 9.2 billion light-years. And they can be part of a single, even larger structure. Cosmological principles have undergone significant changes in recent years, so scientists may need to consider alternative models. For example, the appearance of gigantic structures under the influence of one-dimensional defects in space and time – cosmic strings. Or the model of conformal periodic cosmology, which posits that our universe is one link in an infinite chain in which the collapse of one universe causes a big bang in another.