We know that the Milky Way travels through the universe at about 600 kilometers per second. Where to? It is a great force that astronomers have described at length. It is the mysterious Great Attractor of the Cosmos.
“Our galaxy is going in the direction of something we cannot see clearly. The focal point of that motion is the Great Attractor. It is the product of billions of years of cosmic evolution.” Cosmologist Paul Sutter, professor of astrophysics at Stony Brooks University in New York, explains.
“Around the 1970s we began to study the motion of our Solar System. We compared it with the motion of other nearby galaxies. Everything seemed to be going in the same direction as the expansion of the universe,” explains Sutter. “But all the galaxies near us were going toward the same focal point.”
The mysterious Great Attractor of the Cosmos appears to be a large dark matter structure. It is in the supercluster of galaxies known as Laniakea. It can pull galaxies within a radius of about 300 million light-years away. Dark matter is another of the enigmatic components of the universe. It is only intuited to exist because of the gravitational effect it exerts on objects in the cosmos.
The “Great Attractor” is about 200 million light-years from Earth. It is not a black hole. It is a gravitational anomaly. “It’s a totally different force and there is no connection to black holes in the universe,” Sutter points out. There are similar anomalies in other parts of the universe that would have a similar function: dragging galaxies along. “Knowing this helps us in a fundamental task of understanding the universe.”
The “mapping” of the universe is achieved by knowing how these zones interact with the other forces, such as light or gravity. “We can buy the interaction with light in other galaxies in the universe,” he adds. Another important aspect is that it allows us to study the “future” of our space environment. By knowing our velocity and direction, we will know how it will behave in the future.
It is quite possible that the Earth or our Solar System may not be able to see the end. “There is another very powerful force in the universe that we call dark energy. It is the complete opposite of gravitational: instead of attracting, it pushes. As it travels toward the Great Attractor, it will have a devastating effect. It will destroy everything that exists,” says Sutter.