Milky Way Exists In An Enormous Hole, Study Reveals

Posted: Jun 7 2017, 3:13pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 7 2017, 9:13pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Milky Way Exists in an Enormous Hole, Study Reveals
The Milky Way exists in one of the holes or voids of the large-scale Swiss Cheese-like structure of the cosmos. MILLENNIUM SIMULATION PROJECT

The presence of a void also helps ease the apparent disagreement between different measurements of the Hubble Constant.

Scientists have found that our galaxy Milky Way sits inside an enormous void in space. It is a relatively empty region that stretches almost two billion light years across and contains far fewer galaxies, stars and planets than expected.

The concept was first proposed in 2013, but new observations lend further support to the theory.

If our universe is like Swiss cheese on large scale – with filaments of matter and voids– our galaxy lies in one of the holes of the cosmic Swiss cheese-like structure. The filaments are made up of normal matter like clusters of galaxies, stars and planets - while the rest is dark matter. Dark or invisible matter consists of approximately 95 percent of the whole universe.

The void that contains the Milky Way is known as the KBC void. And it is the largest known void in our universe. Researchers estimate that it is about 1 billion light years across – almost seven times larger than the average void. The presence of the void can also help calculate how fast the universe is expanding. When astronomers talk about the expansion of the Universe, they suggest that galaxies are moving away from us but the expansion rate varies from one study to another. The theory helps ease the apparent disagreement or tension between different measurements.

“No matter what technique you use, you should get the same value for the expansion rate of the universe today,” said Ben Hoscheit from University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Fortunately, living in a void helps resolve this tension.”

Researchers use different techniques to describe the rate at which the universe is expanding today. One method uses nearby supernovae to determine the value known as the Hubble Constant. It will be affected by the theory. The other value is derived from cosmic microwave background (CMB) – a technique that uses leftover light from the Big Bang. As the latter involves whole universe, the void with far more matter outside exerting a slightly larger gravitational pull will not affect the value.

The existence of void offer more detailed structure of the universe to better understand the phenomenon. The bright light from a supernova explosion can help astronomers measure the accelerated expansion of the universe. Because those objects are relatively close to the Milky Way and they release a predictable amount of energy. On the other hand, cosmic microwave background is a way to understand the very early universe.

“Photons from the CMB encode a baby picture of the very early universe,” explains Hoscheit. “They show us that at that stage, the universe was surprisingly homogeneous. It was a hot, dense soup of photons, electrons and protons, showing only minute temperature differences across the sky. But, in fact, those tiny temperature differences are exactly what allow us to infer the Hubble Constant through this cosmic technique.”

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