Mysteries of the local emptiness: scientists draw a great void around the Milky Way


The astronomers drew a map of the Local Void, an extensive empty region of space that borders the Milky Way, which reveals new details about the structure of our cosmic neighborhood.

Although it was discovered more than 30 years ago, the exact size and shape of Local Void have been a bit mysterious.

The new study traced the size and shape of the cosmic emptiness using observations of the galaxy movement to create a 3D map of the local universe, showing how the Local Void becomes "more empty" as the universe it expands, officials of the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Hawaii said in a statement.

Related: A cosmic perspective: a beautiful and panoramic photo of the Milky Way resembles the view of an astronaut.

An interpretation of the area surrounding the local Void, with our galaxy in the center of the three arrows.

An interpretation of the area surrounding the local Void, with our galaxy in the center of the three arrows.

(Image credit: R. Brent Tully)

The local vacuum was discovered in 1987 by Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii who is also the lead author of the new study, and Richard Fisher, an astrophysicist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. The couple noted that while the Milky Way is Surrounded by other galaxies and cosmic structures., our galaxy is also on the edge of a large empty region.

However, it was difficult to observe the Local Void as it is located behind the center of the Milky Way from our perspective here on Earth.

For this study, the team measured the movement of 18,000 galaxies to develop a map that shows the boundaries between where matter is present and where it is absent to delineate the edge of the Local Void.

Measuring the empty region in our cosmic neighborhood helps to influence a long-standing astronomical mystery. While we know that the universe is expanding, scientists have wondered why the Milky Way, our largest neighboring galaxy Andromeda and smaller surrounding galaxies deviate from the expansion speed For 1.3 million mph (600 kilometers per second).

Galaxies tend to move to denser areas of the universe, attracted by the gravity of surrounding bodies in space, while moving away from less populated regions. Therefore, the study found that at least half of this deviation is a combination of gravitational pull by Virgo cluster, a cluster of nearby galaxies, and the expansion of the Local Void as it empties as the universe continues to expand, according to the statement.

The study was published on July 22 in. The astrophysical diary.

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