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UK astronomers discover gigantic ring-shaped structure in space


UK scientists discovered a gigantic ring-shaped structure in space, which may challenge people's understanding and existing assumptions about the universe.

The astronomers named the ring-shaped structure "the Big Ring", which is 9.2 billion light-years from Earth. It has a diameter of about 1.3 billion light-years, and a circumference of about four billion light-years, made up of galaxies and galaxy clusters.

The ring was identified by a PhD student of University of Central Lancashire Alexia Lopez, who also discovered another ultra-large structure Giant Arc two years ago. The Giant Arc is a structure spanning 3.3 billion light years of space. The two structures in the space are in the same cosmological neighborhood, meaning they are seen at the same distance and at the same cosmic time on the sky.

The astronomers said such structure is so big which challenges people's idea of "what an 'average' region of space looks like," according to the university website. "They exceed the size limit of what is considered theoretically viable, and they pose potential challenges to the Cosmological Principle."

According to one of the guiding principles of astronomy, the Cosmological Principle, such large structures should not exist.

"This is the seventh large structure discovered in the universe that contradicts the idea that the cosmos is smooth on the largest scales. If these structures are real, then it's definitely food for thought for cosmologists and the accepted thinking on how the universe has evolved over time," said Dr. Robert Massey, deputy director of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Lopez said "From current cosmological theories we didn't think structures on this scale were possible. We could expect maybe one exceedingly large structure in all our observable universe. Yet, the Big Ring and the Giant Arc are two huge structures and are even cosmological neighbors, which is extraordinarily fascinating."

(Cover image: Galaxy clusters observed by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. /Reuters)

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