Home > Science > Mind Blowingly Massive Star Cluster Discovered

Mind Blowingly Massive Star Cluster Discovered

Scientists aren’t usually given to hyperbole but the discovery of a galaxy cluster 7 billion light years from the Earth has astronomers gushing.

Image of a massive galaxy cluster located 7 billion light-years from Earth. Galaxies with “old” stellar populations are circled in yellow; galaxies with “young” stellar populations are circled in blue.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Brodwin (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

“This galaxy cluster wins the heavyweight title. It’s among the most massive clusters ever found at this distance,” said Mark Brodwin, a Smithsonian astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The discovery, announced in the current issue of Astrophysical Journal., is especially cool because astronomers got a chance to peer through their instruments to see the cluster as it looked when the universe was half as old as now and our solar system didn’t exist yet.

It’s also likely not going to be the only one out there astronomers find.

Brodwin noted that this cluster is full of ‘old’ galaxies, which likely came together early in the universe’s history, or roughly within the first two billion years. The work was carried out as part of a larger project underway at the South Pole Telescope.

The survey hopes to eventually come up with a sufficiently representative sample of massive galaxy clusters to allow scientists to better measure dark energy. The Center for Astrophysics estimates that most – 95 percent – of the energy in the universe is of unknown origin, which is classified as either “dark energy” or “dark matter.”

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