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Current Affairs

South Pole Wall

Date: 12 July 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A gigantic stretch of the universe dubbed the 'South Pole Wall' containing hundreds of thousands of galaxies was found hiding in plain sight by astronomers.

 

Background

It was found about half a billion light-years away from the Earth by researchers using a mapping technique that involves measuring the 'peculiar velocity of galaxies'. 

 

Details

  • The wall had remained undetected until now because large parts of it were hidden from Earth's view by the bright Milky Way galactic centre and dust surrounding it.

  • This is a wall of galaxies stretching 1.4 billion light-years across - roughly eight sextillion miles - and when seen from Earth is below the south pole.  

  • Scientists said the method let them detect hidden mass that is gravitationally influencing how galaxies move - including dark matter.

  • Dark matter makes up the bulk of matter in the universe but it emits no light and so can only be detected by the gravitational pull it exerts on nearby objects.

  • By measuring the way this hidden mass interacts gravitationally they were able to map regions of space otherwise invisible from the Earth. 

  • The area of cosmology responsible for mapping the universe, particularly at a multi-galaxy level, is known as 'cartography of the cosmos'.

  • The new map created of the area behind the Zone of Galactic Obscuration lets the team discover the South Pole Wall.

  • It has been described as a 'mind-boggling bubble' of material in the southernmost point of the sky - as seen behind the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • Galaxies within this 'wall' are contained in what known as a cosmic web, is made of enormous strands of hydrogen gas they hang from.

  • These structures, which appear like jewels on a necklace, are surrounded by large empty voids. Astronomers say uncovering structures like this help to further our understanding of the universe and how it works.