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Astronomers in Chile detect largest galaxy cluster ever registered

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Astronomers in Chile detect largest galaxy cluster ever registered

Paranal Observatory in Chile's Atacama desert
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Reuters
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Astronomers in Chile have detected the largest and densest cluster of galaxies recorded so far.

Peering billions of light years into space, they've detected the largest, most extensive collection of galaxies ever registered, a "proto-supercluster" they nicknamed Hyperion after a titan from Greek mythology.

"Hyperion" formed when the universe was still young, a mere two billion years after the Big Bang, which kick-started the universe about 13.8 billion years ago

It has a mass one million billion times greater than the sun and is so distant that it is viewed from earth as it looked billions of years ago.

"Hyperion is like 5,000 galaxies of the Milky Way", astronomer Steffen Miefke, the chief of operations for the European Southern Observatory, said.

The ESO operates the Very Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama desert, which detected Hyperion.

"Hyperion is a sixth of the age of the universe. It's as though we were able to look at the adolescence of an 80-year-old human being," Miefke said.

"These are galaxies very far from us, almost at the beginning of the universe, and allow us to understand better how the universe evolved from the Big Bang until the present day."

The team of astronomers who made the discovery was led by Olga Cucciati, from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna.

The Milky Way galaxy, which hosts our Solar System, is about 13.6 billion years old.