There is a huge void that is pulling the Milky Way through space currently. Yes, you read that correctly, The entire galaxy is being pulled by what scientists are calling a cosmic dead zone. Located on the far side of the constellation of Lacerta, the Lizard, the vast patch of nothingness appears to have a striking dearth of galaxies compared to the rest of its cosmic neighborhood.
The paucity of stars, planets and other matter in the region may explain as much as half of the force that propels our home galaxy through the heavens at a speed of two million kilometers per hour.
Scientists have long known that the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, are being pulled across the heavens by the gravitational attraction of the most massive structure in the observable universe. The Shapley attractor, as it is known, is a dense “supercluster” of galaxies some 750m light years from the Milky Way. The Shapley attractor is what is pulling the Milky Way, but scientists had a feeling that it was just being pulled, but also pushed, and that’s where this new information comes into play.
In the latest search for an answer, Yehuda Hoffman, a cosmologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, worked with scientists in France and Hawaii to build a 3D map of the nearest galaxies. They drew on measurements from an array of observatories, including the Hubble space telescope, to work out how more than 8,000 galaxies were moving in the ever-expanding universe.
The map revealed a steady flow of galaxies towards the Shapley attractor and away from another region of space almost directly behind the Milky Way on the same axis. The scientists called the newly-identified region of space the “dipole repeller.”
This is a ton of information to take in, I know. Check out this video. It probably won’t help explain it any better, but you know…science.