Astronomers recently discovered one of the largest supervoid structures in the Universe. The structure, dubbed the Cold Spot, is a 1.8 billion light-year-wide round blob that resembles an incredibly empty hole.
The finding was made by a team of astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa led by Prof. István Szapudi. Prof. Szapudi believes that his team’s cosmic hole is the “largest individual structure” that mankind was yet able to identify.
Astronomers came across the big hole by accident, while performing a survey which revealed that more than 10,000 galaxies vanished from the area where the unusual supervoid was located.
When they found the super hole, astronomers were content that they could finally have an explanation on why that part of the sky was uncommonly cold. The Cold Spot region was discovered more than 10 years ago and was an essential piece of puzzle in the Big Bang theory. Yet, no scientist knew that the spot was in fact covering huge cosmic hole.
Nevertheless, although the Big Bang theory admitted that background temperatures across the Universe were not even, the size and coolness of the Cold Spot puzzled the scientific community for more than one decade.
“The Cold Spot raised a lot of eyebrows. The real question was what was causing it and whether it was a challenge to orthodoxy,”
said Dr Carlos Frenk from the University of Durham, in the U.K.
According to the latest research, the Cold Spot has a giant empty region at its core that drains the heat from light which travels to it. Nevertheless, scientists explained that the newly-found supervoid is not a complete vacuum. It only lacks 20 percent of the matter it was supposed to have when compared with other regions of the Universe.
András Kovács, a co-author of the finding, said that supervoids are “underdense,” rather than completely void. Although finding a hole within the structure of our Universe may not impress many people, scientists are over thrilled with the discovery.
They said that the hole was the greatest supervoid ever discovered by humans if we take into account how boringly evenly distributed the Universe’s matter is. Compared to the texture of the Universe, the supervoid is very rare and unique and impresses scientists with its size and emptiness.
The team involved in the discovery claim that only a handful of supervoids exist in the entire observable cosmos.
For their survey, scientists used the Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) telescope and NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope. Both instruments were used to count galaxies in a remote patch of sky which is located about 3 billion light-years away. Astronomers found that on that patch of the sky, a spherical blob was less densely populated by space objects such as galaxies and supermassive black holes.
Yet, the team couldn’t tell how the void formed or what caused it. As a follow up, they plan to figure that out. Furthermore, the supervoid itself doesn’t explain the Cold Spot since it only drains about only 10 percent of the energy that reaches the spot. So, scientists currently speculate that the strange phenomenon may be explained by “exotic physics” which could challenge traditional cosmological believes.
Image Source: The Scienceman’s Blog