Laniakea: Our home supercluster,
Laniakea super-galactic cluster, Nature
link to Youtube for those unable to see embedded video.
Wow, this is the kind of article that causes me to space out - way out, like totally out of this world and quite a few others as well. James Cave writes a galactic mind-stretcher of an article in, New Galaxy Map Relocates The Milky Way To A Ginormous Supercluster Called Laniakea, which tells us how astronomers have greatly expanded our three-dimensional star maps analyzing the motion of 8,000 neighboring galaxies to discover we are part of a different super-galactic structure than we previously thought.
It turns out we are part of the Laniakean super-cluster not the super-cluster of Virgo.
Until now, the Milky Way was believed to be one galaxy in the 2,000 that make up what's known as the Virgo "supercluster." But as the new map shows, the Milky Way's 100 billion stars are actually part of something 100 times bigger: a supercluster of galaxies astronomers have christened Laniakea, meaning "immense heavens" in the Hawaiian language.
Laniakea spans some 520 million light-years across. As you might imagine, all those stars contain a lot of mass. In fact, astronomers say the supercluster is as massive as 100 million billion suns.
"We have finally established the contours that define the supercluster of galaxies we can call home," lead researcher R. Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said in a written statement. "This is not unlike finding out for the first time that your hometown is actually part of much larger country that borders other nations."
This is one of those rare times when if someone used the adjective "massive" to mean enormous that would actually be correct in both senses of the word. Laneakea contains as much mass as 100 million billion suns.
Or, as Carl Sagan used to say more vividly, we are part of a star system of "billions and billions" of stars. Humorously, stretched out the vowels to make sure people caught how much larger "biiiillions and biiiillions," are than our simple human brains can imagine.
Although, now we can see that even Carl Sagan vastly underestimated the numbers of stars just in the "nearby" or our universe. 102 * 106 * 109 = 1017 which is a hundred quadrillion stars, (U.S. Short Scale. Just an order of magnitude short of a Quintillion, 10182
If he were still alive I'm sure Carl Sagan would be greatly pleased about this.
So, Carl should have said "Quadrillions and Quadrillions" of stars just in our
"small" Laneakean super galactic cluster of the universe.
"Woof, woof!" (Or as some of those of us who have recently learned how to use HTML superscripts like to say, "woof2."
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