Cosmic superclusters, the Universe’s largest structures, don’t actually exist
“The idea of a supercluster and the name for ours, “Laniakea,” will persist for a long time. But just because we named it doesn’t make it real. Billions of years from now, all the different components will simply be strewn farther and farther apart from one another, and in the farthest futures of our imaginings, they’ll disappear from our view and reach entirely.”
Galaxies don’t just exist in isolation in our Universe, but are often found bound together as a part of even grander structures. Our own Milky Way is bound in a galactic group (our local group), nearby are larger groups and galaxy clusters, and on still larger scales, cosmic superclusters appear to encompass as many as 100,000 individual galaxies. Yet it isn’t sufficient to simply see what appears to be a collection and draw an imaginary line around it. You can’t just give something a name and proclaim that it’s meaningful because you defined it. Instead, for a collection of objects in space, they need to be gravitationally bound together and connected. Thanks to dark energy, these superclusters aren’t.
Over billions of years, the galaxies in even our own Local Group will separate from the other clusters and groups nearby, and we’ll never wind up with a bound supercluster. Not here, and not anywhere in the Universe.