The first "bubble of galaxies" has been discovered by a group of international astronomers. This enormous cosmic structure, measuring one billion light-years across, is thought to be a fossilized remnant from shortly after the Big Bang.
The bubble's researchers, who made the discovery and published their findings this week, claim that it is 10,000 times wider than the Milky Way galaxy.
In a statement that was published on Thursday, team member Cullan Howlett from The University of Queensland's School of Mathematics and Physics stated, "This phenomenal bubble is a fossil from the time of the Big Bang 13 billion years ago when the universe was formed."
In a University of Queensland interview, Howlett stated, "We weren't even looking for it, but the structure is so huge it spilled to the edges of the sector of the sky we were analyzing."
He stated, "It dwarfs many of the largest known structures, such as the Sloan Great Wall and Bootes supercluster, which actually form part of this bubble." These structures include the bubble itself.
"What makes it considerably more staggering is it's squarely in our back yard," he added.
The air pocket is focused roughly 820 million light-years from our own cosmic system, in what stargazers call the close by universe.
According to Howlett, the discovery could revolutionize cosmology and paint a clearer picture of the universe's rate of expansion.
He stated, "Our analysis suggests that the universe has expanded further than originally predicted" because this bubble is larger than anticipated.
"We’re now a step closer to a great change in the field of cosmology, where the entire model of the universe may need to be reevaluated," the statement reads.
The bubble of galaxies can be compared to "a spherical shell with a heart," according to Daniel Pomarede, an astrophysicist at the French Atomic Energy Commission and fellow member of "The Great Nothing."
Inside that heart is the Bootes supercluster of worlds, which is encircled by an immense void once in a while called "the Incomparable Nothing".
The massive structure known as the Sloan Great Wall is just one of several galaxy superclusters in the shell that scientists have already identified.
According to Pomarede, the bubble's discovery was "part of a very long scientific process," according to the research he co-authored and published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.
In addition, it confirms a phenomenon that Canadian-American cosmologist and eventual physics Nobel Prize winner Jim Peebles first described in 1970.
Baryon acoustic oscillations (BAOs), he proposed, were sound waves produced by the churning of gravity and radiation in the primordial universe, which was at the time a stew of hot plasma.
Bubbles were formed as the sound waves moved through the plasma.
The process came to an end approximately 380,000 years after the Big Bang as the universe cooled, preserving the bubbles' original form. Similar to other fossilized remains from the period immediately following the Big Bang, the bubbles then grew in size as the universe expanded.
Stargazers recently identified signs of BAOs in 2005 while checking out at information from neighboring cosmic systems. However, the researchers claim that the newly discovered bubble is the first-ever single baryon acoustic oscillation.
The astronomers have given their bubble the name Ho'oleilana, which translates to "sent murmurs of awakening," after a Hawaiian creation chant.
The study's lead author, astronomer Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii, inspired the name.