All About Space

WHAT IS THE GREAT ATTRACTOR?

They became known as the Seven Samurai – seven astronomers dedicated to discovering more about elliptical galaxies who, in the process, appeared to slice through conventional theory. Drawn from across the globe in 1980, these seven were led by Sandra Faber. In her team were astronomers Alan Dressler, Roberto Terlevich, Donald Lynden-Bell, Gary Wegner, David Burnstein and Roger Davies. They were tasked with working with data collected by some of the most advanced giant telescopes on Earth.

The group had come together following some remarkable discoveries over the preceding two decades. One had come in 1965 when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, two researchers with Bell Telephone Laboratories, had picked up uniform noise from a radio receiver they had created. It was subsequently identified by a team at Princeton University as cosmic microwave background (CMB), the leftover radiation from the Big Bang.

But if that wasn't enough of a breakthrough, subsequent detailed mapping of the CMB in the 1970s led to another curious discovery. Astronomers knew that some 13.8 billion years ago the universe emerged from a singularity in an event that we know as the Big Bang, and that it has been expanding since. But the CMB was noted to be a little bit warmer on one side of the Milky Way

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