The universe is the totality of all space, time, matter, and energy. Our Earth is a tiny island of matter and energy, in the vast ocean of spacetime, which the universe is. Just as they say, truth is stranger than fiction and so it is with the universe. The things that our scientists have found in the vast realms beyond our planet, are unbelievable and beyond imagination.
Astounding Facts About the Cosmos
The universe as we know it to be, is an amazing and astounding place, full of surprises. Let us know some facts about the world and the ocean of spacetime, that we float in.
Here are some great facts about the huge island of matter and energy, called a galaxy, that we live in.
- Galaxies are spiraling whirlpools of matter and energy, which are like small oases in the vast empty spaces of our universe. We live in one such galaxy, which we call the Milky Way.
- One light year is the distance traveled by light in a year and it amounts to about 9.4605284 × 1015 meters. Our Milky Way galaxy disk is about 100,000 light years in diameter and about 1000 light years thick. It has up to 400 billion stars like our Sun.
- There are estimated to be about 100 billion such galaxies in the universe. The nearest spiral galaxy, to our Milky Way, is the Andromeda, which is 2.6 million light years away. This galaxy is on a collision course with ours, and will collide with it, in some billion years.
- At the center of every galaxy, there resides a massive black hole. Even our galaxy has a massive black hole at its center.
Here are some incredible facts about the strangest objects in the universe, called 'Black Holes'.
- Black Holes form, when stars much larger than our Sun, run out of their fuel and collapse under their own gravity to zero volume, forming a hole in the fabric of space time.
- When it comes to black holes, the line from Dante's 'Divine Comedy', 'All hope abandon ye who enter here' is actually true. Nothing can escape the phenomenal and unsurpassed gravitational pull of a black hole, not even light.
- The boundary of black holes is called 'Event Horizon'. The surface area of this event horizon is directly proportion to the entropy inside a black hole. Entropy is the measure of disorder in a system.
- Black holes are not entirely black. They emit what is known as 'Hawking radiation' and eventually disappear.
Here are some interesting facts about the 'pulsating stars' or 'Pulsars'.
- Pulsars are rotating neutron stars, with huge magnetic fields, which emit electromagnetic radiation. They are formed from the core of a star exploding in a supernova.
- A pulsar is like a lighthouse. Just as the light house beam passes periodically in front of us, the pulsar pulses past our Earth, every 1.4 milliseconds to 8.5 seconds. This is because they are rotating at phenomenal speeds, while they emit radiation.
- When they were first discovered, the periodic nature of their radiation output was mistaken for a signal from an alien civilization. In fact, the first pulsar source was dubbed 'LGM', standing for 'Little Green Men'.
Here are some great facts about objects with the most phenomenal energy output, called 'Quasars'.
- Quasars (Quasi-stellar objects) were first mistaken to be stars, but later they were discovered to be galaxies. They have a very high redshift, which means that they are traveling at a speed close to that of light.
- Quasars are the very distant and most energetic galaxies, with an energy output unsurpassed by any other object in the universe. The energy output of a quasar is equal to the energy output of about 1 trillion (1012) Suns.
- At the central core of the quasar, is a super-massive black hole, which is swallowing gas and dust, as it courses through space. The energy is thought to be emitted by the in-falling matter, as it heats up.
Hope these facts have intrigued and fueled your curiosity and imagination, to learn more about astronomy. Just get a telescope and take a look at the world beyond our planet, to see the grandeur of our universe, through your own eyes.