A large supercluster of galaxies located around 400 crore light years away from Earth has been named Saraswati. The supercluster, believed to be the equivalent of 20 million billion suns, is more than 10 billion years old. Its mass has extended over the scale of 600 million light years, astronomers have said.
There are an estimated 10 million superclusters in the observable universe.
Saraswati was discovered by astronomers part of the Inter University Centre for Astronomy, and Astrophysics and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research – both based out of Pune – along with members of two other Indian universities, Hindustan Times reported.
One cluster has galaxies roughly ranging from 1,000 to 10,000, while one supercluster consists of 40 to 43 clusters. Saraswati is on the direction of constellation Pisces.
“Superclusters are the largest coherent structures in the cosmic web,” the IUCAA said in a statement. “They are a chain of galaxies and galaxy clusters, bound by gravity, often stretching to several hundred times the size of clusters of galaxies, consisting of tens of thousands of galaxies.”
In 1989, the director of IUCAA and the co-author of the paper on Saraswati, Somak Raychaudhury, had discovered the first massive supercluster of galaxies, the Shapley Concentration, during his PhD research at the University of Cambridge.
“There are basically only four or five known superclusters of this size in the entire universe,” Shishir Sankhyayan, one of the members on the team told The Indian Express. “So, our discovery is a rare find.”
The discovery of superclusters is fairly recent. The Milky Way galaxy, of which Earth is a part of, belongs to the Laniakea Supercluster, and its discovery was announced by Brent Tully at the University of Hawaii only in 2014.
“This supercluster [Saraswati] is clearly embedded in a large network of cosmic filaments traced by clusters and large voids,” IUCAA’s Joydeep Bagchi said in a statement.