Indian scientists have discovered a large supercluster of 43 galaxies located in the direction of the constellation Pisces and they have called it Sarawati. They claim it to be at a distance of 4,000 million (400 crore) light years away from Earth.

Important facts to know:

  • A team of astronomers from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and members of two other Indian universities are the scientists behind this discovery.
  • Saraswati supercluster may contain the mass equivalent of over 20 million billion suns.
  • The Saraswati supercluster is observed as it was when the Universe was 10 billion years old.
  • A supercluster is a chain of galaxies and galaxy clusters, bound by gravity, often stretching to several hundred times the size of clusters of galaxies, consisting of tens of thousands of galaxies.
  • Only a few comparatively large superclusters have been reported previously -the Shapley Concentration or the Sloan Great Wall in the nearby universe.
  • The discovery will be published in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal, the premier research journal of the American Astronomical Society.

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Shishir Sankhyayan from IISER says in an interview to PTI, “This helps us understand how the universe must have been many many years ago. Dark energy, as we all know, is behind the expansion of the universe but nobody has ever actually detected it. But everybody is studying this and the discovery of Saraswati will help us understand the dark energy and what part it plays in the expansion and other evolution of the universe.”

Joydeep Bagchi from IUCAA, the lead author of the paper in the journal, and co-author Sankhyayan said they were “astonished to spot this giant wall-like supercluster of galaxies.”