LANIAKEA: How they modeled the Immeasurable Heavens

Last September,  a video made by Nature magazine that I had also posted on my blog, went viral. The video showed our planets’ position in our galaxy which is part of a super cluster of galaxies called the Laniakea super cluster. This question of where in the universe is the Milky Way, was answered by a group of astrophysicists and cosmologists working in collaborative unison across different countries. They did this by plotting the position of each galaxy’s position and movement in space. The Milky Way it turns out, is found in the furthest outskirts of this cluster.

At a recent TEDx Talk, Hélène Courtois a astrophyisicist and cosmologist based in Lyon France, talks (in French but with English subtitles) about how they went about achieving this feat. The talk is a great follow up of the nature video about Laniakea that went viral in the fall of 2014. She ends her talk by mentioning the role that we are playing today in bridging the gap between the known and the unknown by looking up at the beauty of the universe.

As scientists continue to push the limits of our understanding of Dark Matter, Dark energy and Super Massive Black holes at the center of each galaxy, incremental steps in cosmology coupled with daring feats such as the Rosetta Mission are today making the realm of astrophysics and particle physics some of the most dynamic and consequential areas to be in today. To get a better understanding of what steps we are making in shining light into these dark corners, have a look at the work published in places like Fiat Physica and the Perimeter Institute. It is the work done by these scientists that is truly positioning the human race on the very threshold of learning.


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