I've heard that there is something called the Great Attractor which seems to have some kind of gravitational influence on objects in the Universe. Is this some kind of theoretical notion posited in order to help answer a question in Astronomy, or is there an actual object which is greatly attracting?

Or is this an obsolete notion?

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    $\begingroup$ You could have answered this very quickly with a Google search. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_attractor $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Jan 2 '14 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ OK, @KeithThompson, just figured out how to do it. Been so long since I last did this on any SE. $\endgroup$ – Cyberherbalist Jan 6 '14 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Your question raises an interesting point about what should be posted here; I've asked about it on the Meta site here. $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Jan 6 '14 at 19:21

No; it's real - observations of the movement of galaxies indicate that there is an unusual concentration of mass (probably not a massive "object" of course, but totalling as much as tens of thousands of galaxies) in a place around 200 million lightyears from our galaxy.

It's hard to study since the view in that direction happens to be blocked by our own galaxy, but given that it has been studied for decades, it seems unlikely that the phenomenon turns out to be based on some sort of methodical error.

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    $\begingroup$ There is a plethora of other possible causes for such indirect observations, and it's far from confirmed that it exists at all. For all we know, it's a statistical anomaly (see Malmquist bias). If it had the mass it's inferred indirectly through observations, we would've either already seen it, it wouldn't be directly observable (forming event horizon), or has some other exotic properties (dark matter). So it either doesn't have such mass and is e.g. a region of slower inflation, has it from something we can't observe, or it simply doesn't exist. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jan 2 '14 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ @TildalWave, very useful comment! I wonder if you could transform it into a separate answer? $\endgroup$ – Alexey Bobrick Jan 3 '14 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave - yes, please make your comment into an answer! $\endgroup$ – Cyberherbalist Jan 6 '14 at 18:23

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