Newly-Discovered Space 'Megastructure' Prompts Cosmology Questions

    Newly-Discovered Space 'Megastructure' Prompts Cosmology Questions
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    The Facts

    • A PhD student at the UK's University of Central Lancashire, Alexia Lopez, has discovered the "Big Ring," a ring-shaped megastructure about 1.3B light-years in diameter and more than 9B light-years away from Earth. Lopez's discovery brings into doubt the cosmological principle, which states that the universe is homogenous above a certain spatial scale and appears identical across each direction.

    • Both the Big Ring and "Giant Arc" are found close to each other near the constellation Boötes, which means the two could be part of a larger, connected structure within the universe. To analyze the Big Ring, Lopez and her team used several statistical algorithms to reveal that while it looks like a perfect ring in the sky — the shape of a corkscrew when aligned to Earth's perspective.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Discovering unique phenomena in the universe shouldn't surprise us, as the so-called cosmological principle began to weaken decades ago with the observation of differing mass measurements and galaxy counts. While this still aligns with the Big Bang theory of an expanding universe, the difference now is that we know older, more distant galaxies are bluer, lower in mass, and less evolved in their shape. This discovery shows a whole new texture of the growing universe.

    Narrative B

    The Big Bang theory depends on the accuracy of the cosmological principle. While there may be some variation among galaxy clusters, particularly closer ones, observational studies — which is what these theories are based upon — show the overall patterns of distant matter are spread out uniformly throughout the universe. An important idea to consider is that differences in that irregular clumps of matter weren't made by the aftermath of the Big Bang, but actually by repeated nucleosynthesis from supernovas.

    Metaculus Prediction

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