It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The Shapley Supercluster or Shapley Concentration (SCl 124) is the largest concentration of galaxies in our nearby universe that forms a gravitationally interacting unit, thereby pulling itself together instead of expanding with the universe. It appears as a striking overdensity in the distribution of galaxies in the constellation of Centaurus. It is 650 million light years away (z=0.046).
The Shapley Supercluster lies very close to the direction in which the Local Group of galaxies (including our Galaxy) is moving with respect to the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) frame of reference. This has led many to speculate that the Shapley Supercluster may indeed be one of the major causes of our galaxy's peculiar motion — the Great Attractor may be another — and has led to a surge of interest in this supercluster. It has been found that the Great Attractor and all the galaxies in our corner of the universe (including our galaxy, the Milky Way) are moving towards the Shapley Supercluster.
Universe 156 billion light-years wide
Don't look back
"Our results don't rule out a hall-of-mirrors effect, but they make the possibility far less likely," Cornish said, adding that the findings have shown "no sign that the universe is finite, but that doesn't prove that it is infinite."
The results do render impossible a "soccer ball" shape for the universe, proposed late last year by another team. "However, if they were to 'pump up' their soccer ball to make it larger, they could evade our bounds" and still be in the realm of possibility, Cornish said. Other complex shapes haven't been ruled out.
The findings eliminate any chance of seeing our ancient selves, however, unless we can master time travel.
"If the universe was finite, and had a size of about 4 billion to 5 billion light-years, then light would be able to wrap around the universe, and with a big enough telescope we could view the Earth just after it solidified and when the first life formed," Cornish said. "Unfortunately, our results rule out this tantalizing possibility."
According to contemporary cosmologists' best guesses, the universe will continue to last for an extremely long time, something over a googolplex years. A googolplex is a very large number — 10 to the power of ten 10 to the power of 100. Some estimates are even larger. The question of how long it will last is related to the question of how long the human species, or our descendants, will last, barring some disaster that wipes people all out prematurely.