In astrophysics, it means looking far into the past. Scientists then study the distant universe to understand its evolution, from its beginnings to the present day. That’s what several teams of scientists have done by discovering a superstructure dating back to the youth of the universe when it was only about three billion years old. Also called the “proto-cluster”, this superstructure, which contains thousands of galaxies, will in the future become a cluster of galaxies, such as the Virgo cluster, in which our galaxy is located.
“We observe this proto-cluster as it was when the universe was about 3 billion years old. Began to fall, and today very few stars are formed in the galaxies of the near universe”, explain to Science and the Future Hervé Dole, astrophysicist at the Institute of Space Astrophysics or IAS (CNRS / Paris-Saclay University).
Discovered more than ten years ago thanks to the European Planck satellite, its presence has only recently been confirmed thanks to several additional studies. Several international teams have scrutinized it in detail in two studies published in journals Monthly announcements from the Royal Astronomical Society in March 2021 and Astronomy and astrophysics in October 2021.