A recent deep space discovery is calling into question scientific assumptions that have been taken for granted for generations. The scale of one Large Quasar Group (LQG) is massive — in fact, scientists estimate its size at approximately four billion light years across. But even more significantly, it also appears to be unique, and thus fundamentally challenges the assumption that the universe is homogeneous, lacking any substantial variation in observable phenomena wherever one may happen to look.
According to an article for Reuters, researchers from Britain's University of Central Lancashire published their discovery in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society earlier this month. According to the society, “Since 1982 it has been known that quasars tend to group together in clumps or 'structures' of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs.” Quasars are the brightest known objects in the universe, and thus the existence of such large clusters of quasars is a matter of particular interest to scientists. But the scale of an LQG which is so massive that it is 1,600 times larger than the distance between our galaxy and its nearest neighbor — Andromeda — is so massive that scientists were unprepared for its existence. Reuters quotes the statement issued by Roger Clowes, the leader of the research team: "While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe. … This is hugely exciting — not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe."
Modern science was ill-prepared for the discovery of a "structure" that is four billion light years across because its seemingly unique character defies the “cosmological principle” — an assumption first enunciated by Isaac Newton in 1687 that maintains that there are no "special places" in the universe.
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