Astronomers have unearthed a second exceptionally large cosmic formation, challenging established theories of the universe.
Positioned 9.2 billion light-years away from Earth, this colossal ring-shaped object, referred to as the “Big Ring on the Sky,” boasts a staggering diameter of 1.3 billion light-years and a circumference of approximately four billion light-years. To provide context, the Big Ring’s immense diameter could accommodate 15 full Moons aligned side by side.
Remarkably, this isn’t the initial discovery of such cosmic wonders by the UCLan team. Two years prior, they identified another analogous structure named the “Giant Arc on the Sky,” extending a staggering 3.3 billion light-years.
The scientists discovered that the two exist at the same distance, throughout the same cosmic period, and are only 12 degrees apart in the sky.
“Neither of these two ultra-large structures is easy to explain in our current understanding of the universe. And their ultra-large sizes, distinctive shapes, and cosmological proximity must surely be telling us something important – but what exactly?” said PhD student Alexia Lopez.
“Cosmologists calculate the current theoretical size limit of structures to be 1.2 billion light-years, yet both of these structures are much larger – the Giant Arc is almost three times bigger and the Big Ring’s circumference is comparable to the Giant Arc’s length. From current cosmological theories we didn’t think structures on this scale were possible,” added Lopez.
“One possibility is that the Big Ring could be related to Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations (BAOs). BAOs arise from oscillations in the early universe and today should appear, statistically at least, as spherical shells in the arrangement of galaxies.
“However, detailed analysis of the Big Ring revealed it is not really compatible with the BAO explanation: the Big Ring is too large and is not spherical,” explained Lopez in the release.