Our universe is not uniform. Its matter is clumped up in various places, with some regions less dense than others. And it seems like we just might be in one of those places, a vast cosmic void.
A new study was presented today at the 230th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Texas suggesting as much. It provides new evidence that our region of space has far fewer galaxies, stars, and planets than others. Two papers on the findings have been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal.
The idea that we live in a void neatly explains a problem in astrophysics. When we measure the expansion rate of the universe, the Hubble Constant, it should be the same everywhere we look. But as it’s not, this suggests the gravitational pull elsewhere in the universe is stronger.
“No matter what technique you use, you should get the same value for the expansion rate of the universe today,” said Ben Hoscheit from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Fortunately, living in a void helps resolve this tension.”
According to the findings, the spherical void we reside in is seven times larger than the average void, spanning a huge 1 billion light-years. Named KBC after its discoverers (Keenan, Barger, and Cowie) in 2013, it is the largest void we’ve ever found.