Universe Guide

What is the Boötes Supervoid and where is it?

Location of the Bootes Supervoid

The Boötes Supervoid or Great Boötes Void is an area of space in the Northern Hemisphere that doesn't have as many stars or galaxies as comparable areas of space. Its not the only void, there are others such as the Eridanus Supervoid which is much larger at about 500 million light years across but Boötes Void is more well known.

The name comes from the fact that the Void is located in the constellation of Boötes, the Bear Driver. The void is about 250 to 330 million light years across. To put that into context, the Milky Way Galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years across. The Milky Way could easily fit inside the void along with the Andromeda Galaxy to keep us company. The Andromeda Galaxy wouldn't have to be any closer than it is now to fit within the void.

Since its discovery in 1981, we've only discovered about 60 galaxies in the space that is empty. We should be seeing something like 2,000 galaxies in that space based on the 1 galaxy every 10 million light year generalisation rule. It is not the only void in space but it is the most well know.

It is not the nearest void to us, the nearest void is brilliantly named, Local Void located around Sagittarius constellation is about 150 million light years across. The centre of which is located at least 75 million light years from us. One galaxy ESO 461-36 has been located within the local void.

What causes these voids to appear is unknown but it is suggested that voids can merge as objects move out. The Universe is not equally spaced out. If after the Big Bang, the universe was spread out equally and perfectly, the universe that we know would not have formed as gravity would have kept everything equally space out and therefore objects couldn't have merged into larger objects, If you ever get a chance to see Sir Stephen Hawkings Discovery Channel programme, you'll see a clip of what I'm talking about. Stephen Hawkings Universe (18:00)

Surrounding the Boötes Supervoid are a number of Galaxy Superclusters so maybe we can find the missing galaxies in amongst the Superclusters such as the Hercules Supercluster.

Just to clear things up in case anyone ever thought it. The Supervoid is not far from the radiant point of the Quadrantids meteor shower in terms of location in the sky but there is no connection. The two may be in the same area of space but millions of miles apart. If you was ever to look up to the night sky, you would not be able to see the Supervoid, its too far away to see from down here. For more information on Voids, check out the N.A.S.A. Blog Article on them.

Amongst the possible reasons for the supervoid have been some highly improbable ones such as aliens. An advanced alien civilisation is hiding a whole section of space from enemies or just wanting to be cut off from the rest of space.

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