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The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies

Abstract : Galaxies congregate in clusters and along filaments, and are missing from large regions referred to as voids. These structures are seen in maps derived from spectroscopic surveys that reveal networks of structure that are interconnected with no clear boundaries. Extended regions with a high concentration of galaxies are called 'superclusters', although this term is not precise. There is, however, another way to analyse the structure. If the distance to each galaxy from Earth is directly measured, then the peculiar velocity can be derived from the subtraction of the mean cosmic expansion, the product of distance times the Hubble constant, from observed velocity. The peculiar velocity is the line-of-sight departure from the cosmic expansion and arises from gravitational perturbations; a map of peculiar velocities can be translated into a map of the distribution of matter. Here we report a map of structure made using a catalogue of peculiar velocities. We find locations where peculiar velocity flows diverge, as water does at watershed divides, and we trace the surface of divergent points that surrounds us. Within the volume enclosed by this surface, the motions of galaxies are inward after removal of the mean cosmic expansion and long range flows. We define a supercluster to be the volume within such a surface, and so we are defining the extent of our home supercluster, which we call Laniakea. A key component of this paper is an accompanying movie that can be viewed (also in 3D) and downloaded at or
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Contributor : Dominique Girod <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 19, 2014 - 10:09:42 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 6:13:11 PM

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R.B. Tully, H. Courtois, Y. Hoffman, D. Pomarède. The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies. Nature, Nature Publishing Group, 2014, 513, pp.71-73. ⟨10.1038/nature13674⟩. ⟨in2p3-01066034⟩



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