Laser Crystals

Laser Crystals

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Laniakea, the large transparent bubble at top center in this cube, is our local region of space, as defined by the motion of galaxies. The relative velocities of galaxies show something you can't see by looking at their positions alone: they're moving in enormous flowing structures, organized around the centers of mass of large areas. Defined in 2014, these gravitational watersheds are called superclusters, replacing the older meaning of this word as 'groups of galaxies that just happen to be near each other right now'.

This cube shows the galaxy flowlines that surround and define Laniakea, with our galaxy at the center. Laniakea holds about 100,000 galaxies, covers about 160 megaparsecs, and includes the Virgo Supercluster (ours), Hydra-Centaurus where the Great Attractor is, Pavo-Indus, and the Southern Supercluster. This map also shows several more supergalactic mass concentrations in case you wander further from home, including Hercules, Shapley, and Lepus.

The defining paper is:
R. Brent Tully, Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman, Daniel Pomarède. "The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies". Nature, September 2014.

Nature produced a nice short video:

Data for this sculpture was kindly provided by Drs Brent Tully and Daniel Pomarède. Dr. Pomarède also provides this remarkable video on a somewhat more technical level:

At 2:45 a rotating view of the data in this cube is shown, with labels for the shaded clusters.

A note on the axis labels: this cube is oriented to the supergalactic coordinate system, in which the X-Y plane is aligned with the distribution of nearby galaxy clusters. Its units are redshift km/s, first because this reflects the underlying data, and also because more familiar units of distance, such as lightyears and parsecs, simply aren't big enough to be meaningful. This is a very large-scale map.

Add to Cart $60
Laser etched glass
80mm cube