A Giant Arc on the Sky

Lopez, Alexia M, Clowes, Roger G orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8370-465X and Williger, Gerard M (2022) A Giant Arc on the Sky. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . ISSN 1365-2966

[thumbnail of AAM]
PDF (AAM) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stac2204


We present the serendipitous discovery of a ‘Giant Arc on the Sky’ at z ∼ 0.8. The Giant Arc (GA) spans ∼1 Gpc (proper size, present epoch), and appears to be almost symmetrical on the sky. It was discovered via intervening Mg ii absorbers in the spectra of background quasars, using the catalogues of Zhu & Ménard. The use of Mg ii absorbers represents a new approach to the investigation of large-scale structures (LSSs) at redshifts $0.45 \lesssim z \lesssim 2.25$. We present the observational properties of the GA, and we assess it statistically using methods based on: (i) single-linkage hierarchical clustering (∼4.5σ); (ii) the Cuzick-Edwards test (∼3.0σ); and (iii) power spectrum analysis (∼4.8σ). Each of these methods has distinctive attributes and powers, and we advise considering the evidence from the ensemble. We discuss our approaches to mitigating any post-hoc aspects of analysing significance after discovery. The overdensity of the GA is δρ/ρ ∼ 1.3 ± 0.3. The GA is the newest and one of the largest of a steadily accumulating set of very large LSSs that may (cautiously) challenge the Cosmological Principle, upon which the ‘standard model’ of cosmology is founded. Conceivably, the GA is the precursor of a structure like the Sloan Great Wall (but the GA is about twice the size), seen when the Universe was about half its present age.

Repository Staff Only: item control page