At 10:56 EDT, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the immortal words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, and then stepped out of the lunar landing module Eagle and became the first human to walk on the moon.
A television camera attached to the space craft captured the moment and was witnessed by hundreds of millions of people on Earth. Fellow crew member Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin also filmed with another camera, shooting many images of the lunar landscape. The images captured were shared with the people of Earth in 1.3 seconds — the time it takes for light to travel to Earth.
Photo: Neil Armstrong leaves a footprint on the surface of the Moon (Buzz Aldrin)
Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretch 4 billion light-years from end to end. The structure is a light quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous Galactic Nulcei powered by supermassive central black holes.
So that’s cool and everything, but maybe some of you would be interested to know why this is a significant find? Beyond just its record-setting bigness.
Since Einstein, physicists have accepted something called the Cosmological Principle, which states that the universe looks the same everywhere if you view it on a large enough scale. You might find some weird shit over here, and some other freaky shit over there, but if you pull back the camera far enough, you’ll find that same weird and/or freaky shit cropping up over and over again in a fairly regular distribution. This is because the universe is (probably) infinite in size and (we are pretty darn sure) has, and has always had, the same forces acting on it everywhere.
So why is this new LQG so radical? (It stands for ‘Large Quasar Group,’ btw, not ‘Light Quasar Group.’)
Well, let’s try to comprehend the scale we’re dealing with. A ‘megaparsec,’ written Mpc, is about 3.2 million light years long. The Milky Way is about 0.03 Mpc across (or 100,000 light years). The distance between our galaxy and Andromeda, our closest galactic neighbor, is 0.75 Mpc, or 2.5 million light years. LQGs are usually about 200 Mpc across. Assuming a logarithmic distribution of weird shit outliers (if you don’t know how logarithmic distribution curves work, don’t worry about it), cosmologists predicted that nothing in the universe should be more than 370 Mpc across.
This new LQG is 1200 Mpc long. That’s four billion light years. Four BILLION LIGHT YEARS. Just to travel from one side to the other of this one thing. I mean for fuck’s sake, the universe is only about 14 billion years old! How many of these things could there be?
Right now it looks like the Cosmological Principle might be out the window, unless physicists can find some way to make the existence of this new LQG work with the math (and boy, are they trying). And that’s totally baffling. It would mean—well, we don’t have any idea what it would mean. That the universe isn’t essentially uniform? That some ‘special’ physics apply/applied in some places but not in others? That Something Happened that is totally outside our current ability to understand or quantify stuff happening?
By the way, no one lives there. The radiation from so many quasars would sterilize rock.
Following the surrender of the German 6th Army, a line of prisoners marches through Stalingrad. The remnants of the German 6th Army taken prisoner number 91,000, added to some 20,000 or so taken earlier in the battle. Marched through harsh conditions to POW camps and labor camps, the majority of them would be dead within months. The few who survived the whole ordeal would remain in captivity for over ten years, with some 6,000 survivors finally released over a decade later, in 1955.
CG4 is about 1,300 light years from Earth. Its head is some 1.5 light-years in diameter, and its tail is about eight light-years long. The dusty cloud contains enough material to make several Sun-sized stars. CG4 is located in the constellation of Puppis.