Most Unusual Structures in the Universe

Most Unusual Structures in the Universe

Most Unusual Structures in the Universe
Image Credits: National Geographic

Most of our universe is incomprehensible, even to the most knowledgeable individuals. It is ever-expanding and has a diameter of about 93 billion light-years. Although it homes all kinds of strange things, the following are the most unusual structures in our universe.

Eridanus Supervoid

Eridanus Supervoid - Unusual Structures

According to an estimate, about 99% of the universe seems to be empty. However, quantum physics has shown us that matter can be present even when nothing seems to be present. Such regions are generally occupied by a negligible amount of small particles and gases.

Having said that, scientists have also found some areas in space that are devoid of all kinds of matter. One such void is found in Eridanus constellation that stretches across a whopping 1 billion light-years. Over the years, researchers have presented several theories to try to explain the existence of this “supervoid”.

Some suggest that the void is an imprint of a parallel universe, which somehow ended up in our universe. In contrast to that, physicists believe that it could mean that another universe is developing within ours. Other theories propose that the void is home to a colossal black hole and is a remnant of the Big Bang.  

Great Attractor

Great Attractor - Unusual Structures

The Great Attractor is perhaps the grandest of all cosmological mysteries. This “thing”, as described by astronomers, is tugging at nearby galaxies using its gravitational force. Scientists noticed this while studying the Norma Cluster that is about 220 million light-years away. It is estimated that the Great Attractor is pulling everything around it at speeds exceeding 200,000 miles per hour.

The mass needed to pull off such a strong gravitation force is immense. This made astronomers believe that this unusual structure is made up of dark energy. Nearly everything about the Great Attractor is shrouded in mystery and will probably stay like that in the near future.

Horologium-Reticulum Supercluster

Horologium-Reticulum Supercluster - Unusual Structures

The Horologium-Reticulum Supercluster is definitely one of the most unusual structures in the universe. It contains 30,000 large galaxies, 5000 galaxy groups, and over 300,000 dwarf galaxies. This supercluster is about 550 million light-years in length and is 700 million light-years away from Earth. It is so large that we don’t know where the farthest end of this supercluster is.

This gigantic structure also homes Abell 3266, one of the largest regions in our local universe. Astronomers have noticed a huge cloud of gas (stretching across 5 million light-years) that is quickly approaching this supercluster. It is believed that this cloud will start the formation of new stars in the Horologium-Reticulum Supercluster.

Larger Quasar Group

Larger Quasar Group

The Large Quasar Group is the most massive (currently known) structure in the universe. It is more than a billion light-years across in length and has over 73 active quasars. Some of these are capable of emitting more light and energy than all the stars (combined) in our galaxy.

Being one of the unusual structures in the universe, this group challenges a belief known as the Cosmological Principle. It states that the universe should be homogenous on a macro level. This means that the universe should look the same everywhere. The Large Quasar Group is not the first or the last entity that makes us question our already limited knowledge about the universe.

Newfound Blob

Newfound Blob

Swift J1357.2

Swift J1357.2

This is the closest object to our planet on this list. Surprisingly, it is only 5000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo. Like some of the other unusual structures, little is known about it. Astronomers believe the system to be binary, containing a star and a massive black hole.

Contrary to popular belief, black holes don’t suck in everything. Instead, they only pull the objects that get too close to the event horizon. This is the reason why accretion disks are formed around black holes as more material is collected than consumed. Swift J1357.2 is physically similar to these disks but offers a different movement.

It travels in an outward vertical direction instead of moving horizontally. Consequently, it causes a systematic dimming of the companion star every few seconds.  

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