'El Gordo,' Galaxy With Mass 2 Quadrillion Times The Sun's, Discovered | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

'El Gordo,' Galaxy With Mass 2 Quadrillion Times The Sun's, Discovered

Take the number 2. Put 15 zeroes behind it, as Space.com says:

2,000,000,000,000,000

Now, think about the news from this story at that website:

The discovery of "the largest cluster of galaxies seen yet in the early universe, a giant that astronomers have dubbed 'El Gordo,' " has been announced at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

And just how big is El Gordo thought to be? It "has mass about 2 quadrillion ... times that of the sun, making it 'the most massive known cluster in the distant universe.' "

El Gordo is about 7 billion light-years from us. Scientists hope its discovery will help shed some light, as Space.com says, on "dark energy" and "dark matter." And, as the BBC says, it's possible El Gordo will help us figure out how galaxy clusters "form, grow and collide with one another."

NASA adds that "galaxy clusters, the largest objects in the universe that are held together by gravity, form through the merger of smaller groups or sub-clusters of galaxies. Because the formation process depends on the amount of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, clusters can be used to study these mysterious phenomena."

One other note: Scientists say El Gordo's still growing.

Later today, Melissa Block's conversation about El Gordo with astronomer Felipe Menanteau of Rutgers University is due on All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.

Meanwhile, over at the 13.7 blog they're thinking about this: "What Happened Before The Big Bang? And Other Weird Cosmic Questions."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Why do so many animated movies star motherless kids? Sarah Boxer, a graphic novelist, cartoon-lover and mother, talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the phenomenon and the message it sends to children.
NPR

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.
NPR

What Will Become Of Obama's Request For Immigration Relief Funds?

NPR's Arun Rath talks to political correspondent Mara Liasson about the chances of a political agreement over how to handle the migration of thousands of Central American children.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.