Monday, October 18, 2010

Astronomers discover the granddaddy of all galaxy clusters

The most massive conglomeration of galaxies ever spotted in the early universe has been found, astronomers say. This behemoth galaxy cluster contains about 800 trillion suns packed inside hundreds of galaxies.

And it's not even finished growing. The newfound cluster, called SPT-CL J0546-5345, is about 7 billion light-years from Earth, meaning that its light has taken that long to reach us. Thus, astronomers are seeing this clump as it was 7 billion years ago. By now, it likely will have quadrupled in size, researchers said. The galaxy cluster was spotted by a new, huge 33-foot telescope at the South Pole, where the observatory benefits from an exceptionally clear, dry and stable atmosphere that enables extremely crisp high-resolution photos.

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