The Great Void

How real is Laura Mersini-Houghton a physics professor from University of North Carolina theory about the Great Void?

Speaking of distance in the form of light years is often times hard for the average person to wrap their minds around. A light year, however, is a measure of distance, and it represents how far light can travel in one year. The velocity of light is approximately 300,000 kilometers each second! That is a staggering number, but that being said, in one year, light can travel about 10 trillion kilometers. Kilometers are an adequate measure of what goes on here on earth, but they fast become near useless when we are confronted with explaining the vastness of the galaxy. For this reason, light year becomes a useful measure when the numbers become just too big to write. For example, the distance to the next big galaxy, Andromeda, is 21 quintillion kilometers. Not only does it take a long time to write that, but it is also hard to count how many zeroes that is, and what mathematical unit of measurement it actually represents. This unit of measurement certainly came in handy when Robert Kirshner first reported on a humongous void in 1981Robert Kirshner

Fundamental to Mr. Kirshner’s study of galactic redshifts, as he was surveying the galaxy, Boötes Void was discovered. Redshifts occur when light is increased in wavelength, or shifted to the part of the spectrum referred to as the “red end.” These are largely Doppler effects, and the redshifts and blueshifts were used to eventually create what we know as Doppler technology, or that which we rely on primarily for our weather forecasts. That being said, there are large scale filaments in the universe, called cosmic voids. Very little is known of voids, and Boötes void, named for the nearby constellation of the same name, is no exception. Voids are generally believed to be the result of the Big Bang, or collapses of mass followed by implosions of matter, largely baryonic mater. Voids in space are being discovered through redshift studies as they appear as “cold spots.” This Doppler technology that led to Kushner’s discovery is still very much being used today.

This technology was useful again when in 2004, astronomers at the University of Minnesota discovered an enormous, and anomalous, hole in the universe. This was a huge, and startling discovery made by astronomers, turning over on its head the original idea that the Big Bang pretty much leveled things in cosmic space, creating a uniform landscape. Kirshner’s, and the work of several others, showcased voids, or holes, in the universe, but this discovery of the Great Void dwarfed them all. Not much is known of this void that is nearly 1 billion light-years across. With very little known, supposition abounds, and this includes that perhaps this is the result of another universe bumping into our own. The temperature of this void, as measured by cosmic microwave background (CMB), is nearly fifty percent lower, in some parts, than the average for the rest of the discoveries made to date, and in other parts it is lower at near twenty percent. This fact alone makes this void very interesting to astronomers the world over, fostering an atmosphere of rediscovery.

Cosmic gaps are not uncommon, but what made this one of even greater interest is the fact that it is nearly 1000 times larger than other known gaps, or that which is far greater than what astronomers would even expect to find. This void is 10,000 times the size of our galaxy, and it really confounded the scientific community, as it served to force them out of the confines of what they knew of scientific discovery, requiring that they find a new way to explain this. Their current scientific understandings and theories were completely inadequate to understand and develop a point-of-reference on exactly what they were dealing with. Scientists, some of the smartest people in the room, this finding galvanized scientific researchers far-and-wide as they set out to explain what this could be.

A physics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Laura Mersini-Houghton, developed a theory about this Great Void that brought her great acclaim, and was met with some incredulityLaura Mersini Houghton and awe by her peers. She said that current understanding of the universe could not explain this phenomena, and it could only be construed as being indicative of another universe. This left her peers in the scientific a bit miffed, perhaps even stunned. She based her theory on the idea that 2 giant holes exist, one in each of our hemispheres, and that this one that was found in the Northern hemisphere will likely have a counterpart in the Southern hemisphere.

Over a decade after this professor posited such other-wordliness, in 2015 astrologers have acquired evidence about the origin of this cold spot, and they also dismantled the multiverse hypothesis with their findings. Initially when the void was found, it was discovered using the NASA’s Wilkinson’s Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). In using Hawaii’s Pan STARRS1 (PS1) telescope, and NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE), a researcher, Istvan Szapudi, at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii may have found the largest structured known to man. Studies prior to this showed there was not much evidence for a distant structure in the direction of the cold spot. Apparently it is hard to identify structures closer to us than further away, but researchers constructed 3-D models of galaxies, and through this process they discovered an imense section, only 3 billion light years far, that has a lower density of galaxies than the rest of the known universe. This is huge, measuring approximately 1.8 billion light years wide, and in the cosmological scheme of things, 3 billion light-years is not that far away.

This researcher’s discovery of a supervoid has to do with the CMB cold spot that was discovered in 2004 because CMB radiation is the oldest known in the cosmos. This was created just after the Big Bang Theory, this is a weak glow that has to travel from the edge, as we know it, to be detected by the most-advanced instrumentation that we have. That being said, the medium that it travels through is important. The CMB radiation, as it encountered this supervoid, a region of space with a lower density than other areas in the universe, the Integrated Sachs-Wolf (ISW) effect could have altered the radiation, and it’s characteristics, as it traveled through it. As the universe is expanding, radiation traveling through normal space tells us that when this same radiation travels through this super void, it loses more energy. This leads to the anomalous cool spot on WMAP, which would also be seen as a huge cold spot. In this, some have come to the conclusion that the Great Void is nothing more than the result of a shortcoming of our technology, and how radiation travels across vast mediums in space. There is, however, nothing definitive yet, and as with many things scientific, hypothesis will persist until something definitive is discovered. These are exciting times in the kingdom!

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