Hyperion Super-galaxy


  • A team of scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) peering billions of light years into space have detected the largest.
  • It is the most extensive collection of galaxies ever registered in the early days of the universe, a proto-supercluster, which they nicknamed ‘Hyperion.’
  • In Ancient Greek mythology, Hyperion was a colossal titan who fathered Helios, the Sun.

What are superclusters?

  • The largest known system of galaxies.
  • Galaxies are not spread out in the universe at random but packed together in groups based on where in the universe they started to form.
  • One of the largest known superclusters in the universe is called the Sloan Great Wall.

All about Hyperion

  • Hyperion has a calculated mass more than one million billion times that of the Sun, making it the largest and most massive structure to be found so early in the formation of the universe.
  • It is like 5,000 galaxies of the Milky Way, said astronomer Steffen Miefke, the chief of operations for the European Southern Observatory.
  • Hyperion is an adolescent in astronomy terms. Its distance from earth means astronomers are viewing it as it was created just over two billion years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe about 13.8 billion years ago.
  • Hyperion is a sixth of the age of the universe

How was Hyperion detected?

  • Hyperion was detected using the Visible Multi-Object Spectrograph (VIMOS), which according to its handlers acts as a time machine in the middle of a desert, showing how the universe looked when it was just a third of its current age.
  • The VIMOS instrument can measure the distance to hundreds of galaxies at the same time.
  • Making it possible to map the position of galaxies within the forming supercluster in three dimensions.
  • The spectrograph is hosted by the Chile-based Very Large Telescope.
  • The discovery was made by a team led by Olga Cucciati of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna, Italy.
  • This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over two billion years after the Big Bang,” Cucciati explained in the discovery paper.
  • The telescope sits in the Chilean desert 760 miles north of the capital Santiago.

Other information

  • Superclusters closer to Earth tend to (appear as) a much more concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural features.
  • But in Hyperion, the mass is distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs, populated by loose associations of galaxies.
  • The research, entitled ‘The Progeny of a Cosmic Titan’ was featured in the journal ‘Astronomy & Astrophysics.’
  • Given its size so early in the history of the universe, Hyperion is expected to evolve into something similar to the immense structures in the local universe such as the superclusters making up the Sloan Great Wall or the Virgo Supercluster that contains our own galaxy, the Milky Way.


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