MELBOURNE -- An international team of astronomers has found a massive supercluster of galaxies that had previously gone undetected as it was hidden by stars and dust in the Milky Way.
The Vela supercluster is a huge mass that influenced the motion of our galaxy, said Professor Matthew Colless from Australian National University.
"This is one of the biggest concentrations of galaxies in the Universe -- possibly the biggest in the neighbourhood of our Galaxy, but that will need to be confirmed by further study," Colless added.
"The gravity of the Vela supercluster may explain the difference between the measured motion of the Milky Way through space and the motion predicted from the distribution of previously mapped galaxies," Colless, who used the Anglo-Australian telescope to measure distances for many galaxies, explained.
The research -- published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society -- involved astronomers based in South Africa, Australia and Europe.
Two new Australian surveys starting in 2017 will confirm the size of the Vela supercluster, according to the researchers.
"The Taipan optical survey will measure galaxy distances over a bigger area around Vela, while the WALLABY radio survey will be able to peer through the densest parts of the Milky Way into the supercluster's heart," Colless pointed out.