This took everybody by surprise: the largest space gap, about a billion light years across and around 6-10bn light years from Earth. This vacuum does not only lack the matter which stars, planets and other space bodies are made up of, but also the so-called "dark matter" too.
"Not only has no one ever found a void this
big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said Professor Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota.
"We are in the business of discovery, of doing research that is exciting, mind-blowing. So when there's a discovery like this, it's really just fun." said Rudnick.
There are also other known space voids empty of all matter, but all are much further located and much smaller than the newly found "WMAP cold spot", detected on a map of the universe made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.
This satellite assessed the temperature differences in the space microwave background, a remnant of the Big Bang revealing the temperature pattern in the early Universe.
"What we've found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the Universe," said Liliya Williams, also of the University of Minnesota.
"Astronomers have known for some time that there are empty spaces in the sky, devoid of planets, stars or much else. But they never imagined anything this large." said Rudnick.
The newfound gap is 1,000 times bigger than any previously found.
"In our own Milky Way galaxy, we have 100 billion stars. If we were to go off in a spaceship traveling at the speed of light, you would only have to go a few years before you find another star. What we found is a place where you'd travel for a billion years before you found another concentration of mass. It would be a very boring journey of a billion years." explained Rudnick.