Space

Universe's Pattern May Max Out At 350 Million Light Years

The universe is shaped like a fractal, scientists say, but the mathematical form breaks down at large enough scales

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Stars crowd together into galaxies, galaxies assemble into clusters, and clusters amass to form superclusters. Astronomers, probing ever-larger volumes of the cosmos, have been surprised again and again to find matter clustering on ever-larger scales. This Russian-nesting-doll-like distribution of matter has led them to wonder whether the universe is a fractal: a mathematical object that looks the same at any scale, whether you zoom in or out.

If the fractal pattern continues no matter how far out you look, this would have profound implications for scientists' understanding of the universe. But now, a new astronomy survey refutes the notion.