Cosmology

Is there a hole in the universe?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Just what the universe needs -- a hole in it! According to a 2007 study published by the University of Minnesota, the universe has a hole in it 1 billion light-years long. It is at least 6 billion light-years away from Earth and was discovered by a NASA program investigating cosmic microwave background radiation, which is a lingering effect of the Big Bang. This part of the universe is considered a "hole" because it contains no matter or cosmic dust. Scientists -- the University of Minnesota research team consisted of Lawrence Rudnick, Shea Brown and Liliya R. Williams -- also couldn't find dark matter, dark energy or even black holes, which would have indicated that at some point matter had existed in the region.

    According to astronomer R. Brent Tully, voids develop when certain high-mass regions of space pull matter away from areas that are less massive. Similar voids have been found before, but this 1-billion-light-years-long hole is easily the largest. The team of researchers made the discovery by studying data from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's VLA sky survey, which basically took a radio picture of all of the sky visible to New Mexico's Very Large Array of radio telescopes. In the constellation Eridanus, the team noticed a marked decrease in the number of galaxies. It was an area of space the team knew as the "WMAP Cold Spot," because the WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotopy Probe) satellite, which was tasked with taking pictures of the universe from its earliest time of formation. The Minnesota team asserts that the colder temperatures in Eridanus seem to be caused by a huge area devoid of all matter [source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory].

    So, yes, Virginia, there does seem to be a hole in the universe. It's often said that for vast stretches of the universe there is "nothing" out there. Who knew they were being so literal?


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