A team of astronomers claims it found a “giant arc” of galaxies spanning over 3 billion light-years across.
Though galaxy clusters aren’t rare at all, this particular one appears not to obey the cosmological principle – the consensus that matter is homogeneously spread across space.
If the galaxy arc turns out real, it may upend science’s perception of the universe.
The discovery was reported by Science News, and the team of astronomers announced it at a recent press event.
Alexia Lopez, a cosmologist from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England, conducted the team.
She expressed herself loud and clear – The discovery may be a huge deal!
She went on to claim that confirmation of the discovery “would overturn cosmology as we knot it.”
According to her, the standard model “kind of falls through.”
The arc of galaxies, which the team named “the Giant Arc“, violates the fundamental principle due to the outsized heterogeneity it presents.
The cosmological principle says the universe is homogenous and isotopic (aka, vaguely the same everywhere and in all directions) on scales larger than ~1.2 billion light years. But the Giant Arc referenced above is a cluster of galaxies almost 3 times that size! #AAS238 pic.twitter.com/3ZANCnr355
— astrobites (@astrobites) June 7, 2021
Though the arc physically occupies a section of the sky 20-full-Moons across, it can be seen with the naked eye.
The team managed to detect it mainly thanks to how it distorts light from the quasars behind it.
Science News noted that the Giant Arc’s “signature” on the electromagnetic spectrum consists of magnesium atoms that gave up one electron, which means that the light we see from the quasars behind the arc gets absorbed and emitted by the magnesium atoms, which has a particular wavelength when it reaches our planet.