Our galaxy is hurtling through space at about 1.2 million miles an hour – and the reason is a strange ‘void’, pushing us through space.
Previously, scientists had believed that our Milky Way galaxy was being pulled towards dense regions of the universe – much in the same way that gravity made Newton’s apple fall toward earth.
But researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy found a previously unknown, nearly empty region in our extragalactic neighborhood – which they describe as the Dipole Repeller.
It’s a cosmic ‘dead zone’ located 500 million light years from Earth, the researchers say.
Nearly empty of galaxies, the Dipole Repeller exerts a repelling force, pushing our Local Group of galaxies through space.
A team led by Yehuda Hoffman, at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institutes of Physics mapped how galaxies moved through space – and saw how dense regions of space are ‘pulling’ the Milky Way, as less dense ones ‘push’ it.
Hoffman said, ‘“Through 3D mapping the flow of galaxies through space, we found that our Milky Way galaxy is speeding away from a large, previously unidentified, region of low density that we call the Dipole Repeller.
It has become apparent that push and pull are of comparable importance at our location.”
They expect that future ultra-sensitive surveys at optical, near-infrared and radio wavelengths will directly identify the few galaxies expected to lie in this void, and directly confirm the void associated with the Dipole Repeller.