If you feel consumed in the drama of the world, let these powerful facts about the universe ground you in the truth that life is so much more–maybe more than we could ever imagine.
“The cosmos is within us, we’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – Carl Sagan
Take a step back. In the picture above, taken by the Hubble telescope, there are thousands and thousands of galaxies, each containing millions of stars, each with their own planets. And this picture is just a tiny fragment of what we can see in the night sky. There are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth.
Let’s not lose our appreciation for the miracle of life, or our childlike wonder. Life is more exciting, and possibilities are vast, when you think on a larger scale. So, look up at the sky and deep into nature. You are part of everything, and everything is part of you.
Here are some facts about the universe that have me shaking my head in wonder.
23 Fascinating Facts about the Universe
1. When we look up into the starry sky, we are only seeing something like 0.000003% percent of what’s out there. In fact…
2. 90 percent of the Milky Way Galaxy is invisible.
3. Within the distance between Earth and the moon, you can fit every planet in our Solar System.
4. Our Solar System takes approximately 225 to 250 million years to rotate around the Milky Way. The last time Earth was in its current position, dinosaurs were just beginning to roam the Earth.
5. 30 light years away in the constellation Leo, there is a planet covered in burning ice. “… Extreme pressure forces the water to stay in solid form, even though the temperature exceeds 570° F (300° C). The outer layer of the solid water is superheated and comes off as vapor.”
6. If you could compress the Earth down to the size of a marble, it would collapse in on itself and become a black hole.
7. A black hole is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area, resulting in a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere approximately the diameter of New York City. And we can’t see it.
8. Some say that *if* you could look out from inside a black hole, you would be able to see the entire universe in one small patch of the sky – including the back of your own head.
10. A white dwarf star is a small star, about the size of Earth, and one of the last stages of a star’s life. Stars as small as our planet are that tiny because they are nearing their own destruction, which will lead to the birth of more stars.
11. In billions of years, when our sun is at the end of its life, it will become a red giant star (bigger and cooler), then it will turn into a glowing ring of gas (called a planetary nebula), and finally a white dwarf star.
12. W26 is one of the biggest known stars in the universe; it’s about 1,500 times wider than our Sun. The red supergiant star is nearing the end of its life.
13. According to the best estimates of astronomers, 275 million new stars are born every single day.
14. There could be anywhere up to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and up to 50 billion planets. If even 1 percent of those are in their systems’ Goldilocks zone, then there are 500 million planets in our galaxy alone capable of supporting life.
15. The Milky Way is part of a small group of nearby galaxies called the Local Group. There are about three dozen galaxies in the Local Group.
16. Our galaxy is at least 100,000 light-years in diameter, making it the second-biggest in our Local Group of galaxies.
17. At approximately 2.5 million light years away, the Andromeda Galaxy is our closest massive galactic neighbor. If it were visible to the naked eye, it would be about six times larger than the moon in the night sky.
18. We are a far-flung part of the Virgo Cluster, the nearest big cluster at about 60 million light years away and boasting a collection of about 2,000 galaxies, many of which are as large or larger than the Milky Way. Its total mass may be around a quadrillion times the mass of our Sun.
19. Our galaxy is currently eating several other, smaller galaxies. They’ve been ripped into long curving arcs of stars that orbit the center of the Milky Way
20. If you shrunk the sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way galaxy down using the same scale, the Milky Way would be the size of the United States.
21. About 1 percent of the static on your television is caused by Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation left over from the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago.
22. Every atom in your body was formed in stars or in the explosive aftermath of the Big Bang, billions of years ago, trillions of miles away. You live because stars died.
23. It is concluded that 93 percent of your body mass is, in fact, stardust.
Please note that I did my best to research all facts for accuracy, but if you find any mistakes, please let me know. I appreciate your help!
Please share your thoughts, any other amazing facts about the universe, or inspiring experiences with me in the comments.
Share these facts about the universe with someone who might enjoy them.
Fall in love with life. There is so much to learn and to know, and it’s okay if we aren’t able to know everything. Stay curious and stay grateful for this amazing gift called life. Let the mystery of the unknown ground you in gratitude and awe.