University of Hawaii scientists are the first to map a colossal supercluster where our galaxy lies.
Brent Tully's latest discovery is out of this world -- quite literally. The UH astronomer just mapped a section of it.
It took him 40 years to do it, but Tully used velocity vectors to map and define the border of this huge cluster of galaxies.
"It's got 100,000 big galaxies, like our own. That's 100 quadrillion times the mass of the sun," said Tully.
This supercluster is also, well, super big!
"It's about 500 million light years across," said Tully.
To try to put that into perspective, it would take one second in light years for us to get to the moon, eight minutes to the sun and 500 million light years to make it from one end of Laniakea to the other.
"We are in the suburbs of Laniakea and the downtown over here is what we call the great attractor," said Tully.
The great attractor is the center of gravity the galaxies hover around.
Tully says he named the supercluster Laniakea, which means "immense heavens." He said he wanted to give it a Hawaiian name because the stars played a crucial role in how our ancestors navigated the oceans.
Within Laniakea alone are 100 quadrillion stars and Tully says there are strong odds that we may not be the only living beings in the universe.
"When I'm talking about this 100 quadrillion stars, we're talking about over 100 quadrillion other planets. If you have 100 quadrillion other planets, there's a chance that some of them may have life," said Tully.
Tully believes there are 6 million other superclusters similar to Laniakea in our universe. His discovery will be on the front page of the journal Nature.