Home, sweet home. A new discovery published today in Nature, shows that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is part of an enormous supercluster of galaxies. The name they have chosen for this supercluster is Laniakea, a word that comes from the Hawaiian words for “immeasurable heaven.” Stretching over 500 million light years across and containing over 100,000 galaxies with the mass of a hundred million billion suns, this new structure is the biggest gravitational object we know. All our structure is defined by gravity – without it there would be nothing – no planets, no stars, no galaxies, nothing. But at the largest sizes bigger than galaxies, another force kicks in – the mysterious dark energy that seems to accelerating the universe expansion.
Now scientists have a detailed enough understanding of the balance between gravity and dark energy to make our biggest ever map of our locality. And now we knowledge our full cosmic address does not end at our galaxy. Now we’re proud citizens of Laniakea. Better get your passport.