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Surprising giant ring-like structure in the universe
 by Tomasz Nowakowski report

An image of the distribution of GRBs on the sky at a distance of 7 billion light years, centred on the newly discovered ring. The positions of the GRBs are marked by blue dots and the Milky Way is indicated for reference, running from left to right across the image. Credit: L. Balazs.

(Phys.org)—Five billion light years is a distance almost inconceivable, even on a cosmic scale. To better illustrate the extent of this physical quantity, it's enough to say that 35,000 galaxies the size of our Milky Way are needed to cover that distance. Thanks to a surprising discovery made by a Hungarian-U.S. team of astronomers, now we know that a structure this big really exists in the observable universe.

The researchers found a ring of nine gamma-ray bursts (GRBs)—the most luminous events in the universe—about 5 billion light years in diameter, and having a nearly regular circular shape, noting that there is a one in 20,000 probability of the GRBs being in this distribution by chance. They published their findings on July 27 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Lajos Balazs of Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary who led the team of astronomers, cannot hide how surprised he was when a feature so large was discovered.

"Until now GRBs are the only objects for which we know the spatial distribution in the whole observable universe. All other objects are complete only in a restricted part of the sky. Our discovery has revealed a large-scale regular feature not known before. Large scale objects like GRB groups have been known already, but such a regular circular structure was a surprise," Balazs told Phys.org.

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