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Our Home Laniakea, The Supercluster of Galaxies

by Brea Aamoth on September 29th, 2017

Galaxies are often described as giant cities, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. While our Milky Way galaxy is massive, it’s still a smaller piece of a much grander structure within our universe. Superclusters are supermassive structures within which thousands of galaxies are connected together by gravity. Dr. Brent Tully, astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) helped identify the supercluster “Laniakea,” which means “immense heavens” in Hawaiian, and is home to our Milky Way galaxy. Join us at ‘Imiloa as Dr. Tully discusses Our Home Laniakea, The Supercluster of Galaxies on Friday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m.

A digital map representing the Laniakea Supercluster

A digital map representing the Laniakea Supercluster

Dr. Tully will reveal the complexities of galaxies and how they group themselves throughout our universe. Galaxies are not just distributed randomly, instead they’re found in groups that contain dozens of galaxies that are all interconnected in a web of filaments, in which the galaxies are strung like pearls. The discovery of superclusters has clarified the boundaries of our galactic neighborhood, and establishes previously unrecognized linkages among various galaxy clusters in the local universe. Learn how researchers are finding new ways of evaluating these large-scaled structures by examining their impact on motion, the consequences of a ‘gravitational tug-of-war’.

Tully led the international team of astronomers in defining the contours of the Laniakea supercluster. The name was suggested by Nawa‘a Napolean, an associate professor of Hawaiian Language and chair of the Department of Languages, Linguistics and Literature at Kapiolani Community College, a part of the University of Hawai‘i system. The name honors Polynesian navigators who used their knowledge of the heavens to voyage across the Pacific Ocean.

Nawa‘a Napolean (left) and Dr. Tully (right)

Nawa‘a Napolean (left) and Dr. Tully (right)

Dr. Tully grew up in Vancouver, Canada. He obtained a PhD in astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1972. After taking a year off to see the world, he accepted a postdoctoral position in Marseille, France for two years. In 1975 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he has remained for 42 years. Tully has received several local, national and international awards, among them the ViKtor Ambartsumian International Prize and the Gruber Cosmology Prize.

Dr. Tully’s talk will take place in ‘Imiloa’s planetarium. Tickets are $10, $8 for ‘Imiloa members. Member level discounts apply.


About the Institute for Astronomy (IfA):
Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai‘i conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets and the sun. Its faculty and staff are involved in astronomy education, deep space missions and in the developmental management of the observatories on Maunakea and Haleakalā. IfA operates facilities on the islands of Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui.

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