A team of astronomers from the Inter University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), both in Pune, along with astrophysicists from two other Indian universities have discovered "an extremely large supercluster of galaxies -- as big as 20 million billion suns" and named it 'Saraswati'.
It is located in the direction of the Pisces constellation and is one of the largest known structures in that neighbourhood of the universe, placed at a distance of 4,000 million (400 crore) light years away from Earth. Saraswati extends over a scale of 600 million light years and is believed to be 10 billion years old.
In a matter of great pride for our astronomers, the discovery will be published in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal, the premier research journal of the American Astronomical Society.
The discovery will help shed light on perplexing questions like how such high matter-density clusters had formed billions of years ago
"Saraswati" (or "Sarasvati"), a word that has proto-Indo-European roots, is a name found in ancient Indian texts. It refers to a major river around which the people of the ancient Indian civilization lived. It is also the name of the celestial goddess, who is the keeper of the celestial rivers. In modern India, Saraswati is worshipped as the goddess of knowledge.
Interestingly, Somak Raychaudhury, director of IUCAA, Pune, and a co-author in this paper, discovered the first massive supercluster of galaxies, the Shapley Concentration, during his PhD research at the University of Cambridge.
Lead author of the paper, Joydeep Bagchi from IUCAA, and co-author Shishir Sankhyayan (PhD scholar at IISER) said, "We were very surprised to spot this giant wall-like supercluster of galaxies. Only a few large superclusters of this magnitude have been discovered, such as the Shapley Concentration. Saraswati supercluster is the farthest one."
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