The supposed “hole in the Universe.” Image credit: original by ESO, captioned by IFLS and tweeted by the Twitter account @scienceporn.
“Youth always tries to fill the void, an old man learns to live with it.” -Mark Z. Danielewski
There are plenty of scientific myths that go around, including many that were generated recently by so-called science communicators that actively harm public knowledge. One of them was a now-famous image of a dark nebula silhouetted against a star field, claiming that this was a hole in the Universe a billion light years across with no matter in it.
Image credit: ESO, of the same object in a composite of visible, near-IR and farther-IR light.
Not only is the image itself a completely different picture — that of a tiny molecular gas cloud just 500 light years away — but the study that leads to the conclusion of a “hole in the Universe” has that as only one of many possible interpretations. Far more likely is that we’re simply looking at a large, underdense region that’s well within the range of what’s normal and expected for our Universe.
Image credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF, NASA.