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Milky Way's place in space mapped.

The Milky Way is part of a much vaster galactic network than previously thought. The galaxy drifts in a stream of galaxies on the outskirts of a newly identified collection of galaxy clusters, each of which contains hundreds to thousands of galaxies. This supercluster, named Laniakea, holds the mass of 100 million billion suns in a region that spans 520 million light-years. R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii and colleagues sifted through data on the positions and velocities of over 8,000 galaxies to get a fresh look at the Milky Way's place in space. After accounting for motion caused by the universe's expansion, the team created a 3-D view of how gravity molds the galaxy's cosmic neighborhood. The work, published in the Sept. 4 Nature, reveals Laniakea's boundaries and web-like framework. The Milky Way lies along one of the lines of that web, in a tributary feeding one of many galactic rivers. Those streams converge in a gravitational valley roughly 200 million light-years away near two massive galaxy clusters. Their combined gravity appears to be drawing in other galaxies and clusters within Laniakea, including the Milky Way.

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Title Annotation:ATOM & COSMOS
Author:Crockett, Christopher
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Oct 4, 2014
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