A galaxy supercluster is the largest known structure in the Universe, made of dozens of galaxy clusters, themselves containing thousands of galaxies. The Saraswati Supercluster, discovered this year by a team of Indian scientists, is the largest known galaxy cluster today. It extends over 650 million light years across and weighs more than 20 billion suns would. We caught up with Prof. Joydeep Bagchi, who led the team that discovered Saraswati Supercluster, for a chat about the importance and implications of the discovery.
You are here
When the European Space Agency (ESA) released a catalogue containing precise positions and brightnesses of 1142 million stars of the Milky Way on September 14, 2016, it was a treasure trove of information for astronomers. Gaia, a space-based telescope launched on December 19, 2013 by the ESA, is on its mission to study the evolution of our galaxy. As of today, it is observing approximately one billion celestial bodies including stars, planets, comets, asteroids and quasars in the Milky Way, building the most accurate three-dimensional map of our galaxy we have till now. A billion celestial bodies make just one percent of our galaxy’s population – a scale unimaginable by most of us. Nevertheless, the tremendous data generated by Gaia will be used for determining the positions and motions of stars (astrometry), measuring the colours of the stars (photometry) and measuring the radial velocity (spectroscopy) and studying the constituents of stars.
‘We are all made of stardust’ goes the common saying. The phrase is more than just rhetoric; it alludes to the formation of atoms and molecules in the universe. Most atoms and a few molecules around us were mostly formed in the bowels of exploding stars, which then went on to form planets, oceans, living organisms and everything in between. Now, a collaborative study by Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, is studying the processes that may have led to the formation of these molecules from the debris of the exploding stars.