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Astronomers find largest hole in universe

A giant hole in the universe is devoid of galaxies, stars and even lacks dark matter, astronomers say.

The University of Minnesota researchers say the void is nearly a billion light-years across, the largest found so far, and they have no idea why it is there.

"Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," says Professor Lawrence Rudnick, whose research will appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

Rudnick and colleagues say they were examining a cold spot using the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite, and found the giant hole.

"We already knew there was something different about this spot in the sky," Rudnick says.

The region stands out as being colder in a survey of the cosmic microwave background, the faint radio buzz left over from the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe.

"What we've found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the universe," says co-author Associate Professor Liliya Williams.

The astronomers say the region even appears to lack dark matter, which cannot be seen directly but is usually detected by measuring gravitational forces.

The void is in a region of sky in the constellation Eridanus, southwest of Orion.


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