The Atlantic

Are We Living in a Giant Cosmic Void?

A team of researchers says the Milky Way resides in one of the observable universe’s darkest regions, but some experts aren't so sure.
Source: JPL / NASA

Don’t panic. Cosmic voids are actually all around us.

Imagine an especially hole-y block of Swiss cheese, and you have a pretty good visual for the leading theory for the structure of the universe. Voids, vast expanses of nearly empty space, account for about 80 percent of the observable universe. The other stuff, like dust and stars and galaxies like the Milky Way, exists in thread-like filaments between these voids. As the universe expanded, gravity drew matter into clumps, leaving behind cavernous spheres. These empty regions, which can measure hundreds of millions of light years across, do contain some galaxies, but they’re dark caverns compared to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readScience
A Breakthrough in the Mystery of Why Women Get So Many Autoimmune Diseases
About 65 million years ago, shortly after the time of the dinosaurs, a new critter popped up on the evolutionary scene. This “scampering animal,” as researchers described it, was likely small, ate bugs, and had a furry tail. It looked, according to a
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
How Harvard Should Handle the Kyle Kashuv Mess
The university and its critics can transform this polarizing culture war controversy into a constructive moment––if both take steps to placate the other side.
The Atlantic6 min read
Kyle Kashuv Becomes a Symbol to Conservatives Who Say the Left Can’t Forgive
The 18-year-old gun-rights activist and Parkland-shooting survivor is being touted by the right as the latest victim of “cancel culture.”