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The Question

(Submitted June 14, 1997)

What is the structure of the Universe?

The Answer

The structure of the local Universe has been mapped recently by Margaret Geller and her colleagues. Their results show that matter is distributed with large clusters of galaxies describing nearly flat sheets, with voids in between, almost like water is distributed in soap bubbles. One result of their work is a "portrait" of the structure of the local Universe referred to as the "stick man".

Many astronomy textbooks include a diagram of it, for example Astronomy Today (Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan, Prentice Hall). The "stick man" is only clearly evident in the first slice of the survey (Figure 26.23 of the book). Other textbooks usually include the image in a chapter on galaxies.


Padi Boyd
for the Ask an Astrophysicist

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