Scientists and Astronomers have discovered the Milky Way Galaxy is located far away in a supercluster of Galaxies, which they have named Laniakea. The team led by R. Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii in Manoa used the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope to map the Milky Way. The team combined the location of more than 8,000 galaxies to create a map of the universe.
“We have finally established the contours that define the supercluster of galaxies we can call home. This is not unlike finding out for the first time that your hometown is actually part of much larger country that borders other nations,” Tully said.
The Laniakea Supercluster is 520 million light years in diameter and is as heavy as one hundred million billion Suns spread across 100,000 galaxies. The Milky Way, though at its extreme end, is constantly pulled towards the centre of Laniakea by Great Attractor. Tully and his team also aspire to understand the causes of this gigantic gravitational force.
The scientists have named this supercluster Laniakea, a Hawaiian term for immense heaven. A video released by the scientific journal, Nature, shows the universe is made up of a vast network of galaxies that look like a massive cosmic web. Superclusters are the largest structures in the universe. They are made up of groups, which contain many galaxies which are interconnected with filaments, but have poorly defined boundaries.
The new mapping technique used in this discovery shows obvious demarcation of where a supercluster of galaxy begins and ends.
The name Laniakea was suggested by Nawa’a Napoleon, an associate professor of Hawaiian Language and chair of the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature at Kapiolani Community College, a part of the University of Hawaii system. The name honors Polynesian navigators who used knowledge of the heavens to voyage across the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.