"Planet Earth, with all its wide expanses, deep seas, and massive mountains, amounts to a speck of dust when stacked up against the immensity of the cosmos. Some of the tiny pin prints of light we see from earth are actually stars big enough to swallow our entire solar system."

How big? How far? How fast?

There are 100 billion galaxies in the observable part of the universe. Each galaxy has billions of stars.

The earth orbits the sun about 66,000 miles per hour.

Planet Earth, with all its wide expanses, deep seas, and massive mountains, amounts to a speck of dust when stacked up against the immensity of the cosmos.

The human mind is finely tuned to deal with the scale of every day experience. The brain can understand traveling 50 miles in a day, but what about 500,000? A person might know what it's like to move at 100 mph, but what about 100 million mph?

Numbers like millions, billions, and trillions are very hard for most of us to imagine because most of us don't have billions or trillions of anything.

How can we ever know the universe if our brains can't really comprehend its colossal size? Scale models help scientist and astrologist to get a better understanding of the size of the universe.

R136a is a young star, about 1 million years old. It's between 250-300 times the mass of our sun. A neutron star is the left over core of a super-nova explosion, with its mass packed astoundingly tight. The density of a neutron star is the equivalent of 10 million monster trucks packed down to the size of a sugar cube. Stack the 10 million monster truck sugar cubes 10 miles high and 10 miles wide, and that's the size, mass, and volume of a neutron star.

Some of the tiny pin prints of light we see from earth are actually stars big enough to swallow our entire solar system. Can the human mind comprehend the largest star in the galaxy?

The sun is the biggest object in our solar system. In terms of sheer mass, it weighs over 300,000 times more than the earth. In terms of volume, it's also the largest object at 800,000 miles across. It's 109 times as wide as the earth, which means that over a million earth's could fit inside the volume of the sun.

As enormous as the sun is in earthly terms, our home star is miniscule compared to our galaxies lineup of stellar mammoths.

  • Sun - 92,960,000 miles from Earth, surface temperature 5,778 k

  • Vega - 2.1 times the size of the Sun.

  • Bellatrix - 8.4 times the Sun's mass.

  • Adhara or Epsilon Canis Majoris - 2nd brightest naked eye star in the constellation Canis Major, emits a total radiation equal to 38,700 times that of the Sun.

  • Dubhe - 4 times the size of the Sun.

  • Aldebaran or Alpha Tauri - 44.2 times the diameter of the Sun. The star shines with 150 times the Sunís luminosity (see image to the right).

  • Betelgeuse - 1000 times the size of the Sun.

  • VY Canis Majoris - 4,900 light years from Earth, radius at least 1,800 that of the Sun.

 
Vega is 25 light years away. Bellatrix is a star in Orion; the brightest constellation in the sky.  Bellatrix sits on Orion's right shoulder (see image) and is 240 light years away.

Adhara, aka, Epsilon Canis Majoris, Canis Majoris is a constellation whose name translates as the "Great Dog." Epsilon Canis Majoris is 17 times wider than the sun and is 430 light years away. It sits in the same constellation as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Dubhe is almost twice the size of Epsilon Canis Majoris and is a giant star on the lips of the big dipper. It's 120 light years away and is called the Red Giant because of its orange color.

Aldebara is a giant red star, in Taurus the Bull, about 65 light years away. Betelgeuse (pronounced bettlejuice) is 650 light years away and 1000 times the size of the sun. If Betlegeuse were in our solar system, all 8 planets would either be destroyed or too hot to be habitable.

VY Canis Majoris is 2000 times the diameter of our sun. It would take a commercial airplane about 1200 years to fully circle it.

Distances in the universe are unimaginably vast. To get an understanding of the size, look at the 870,000 miles of the diameter of the Sun. View it in terms of the size of a bowling ball. Our earth would be a tiny bead in size compared to the size of our Sun.

Holographic Universe will totally change the way you look at the nature of reality. Some of the information in this book is mind blowing. A real eye-opener!

  1. Mercury is the innermost planet in the Solar System and 36 million miles from the Sun. It is also the smallest, and its orbit is the most eccentric (that is, the least perfectly circular) of the eight planets. It orbits the Sun once in about 88 Earth days, completing three rotations about its axis for every two orbits.

  2. Venus is 67 million miles from the sun. Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows.

  3. Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun and the third planet from the Sun. It is the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets. It is sometimes referred to as the world, the Blue Planet, or by its Latin name, Terra.

  4. Mars is 142 million miles from the Sun. It is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.

  5. Jupiter 484 million miles from the Sun. The Sun's incredible brightness reflects off of the distant planets which is why we see them illuminated. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Together, these four planets are sometimes referred to as the Jovian or outer planets.

  6. Saturn is 886 million miles from the Sun, and is twice the distance from Jupiter. Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth. While only one-eighth the average density of Earth, with its larger volume Saturn is just over 95 times more massive than Earth.

  7. Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System and is 1.8 billion miles from the Sun.

  8. Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. It is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third-largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is somewhat more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times the mass of Earth but not as dense. It is 2.7 billion miles from the Sun.

This far out, a planet takes a long time to do an orbit around the sun. The Neptunian year is about 165 earth years. Only one has passed since the discovery of Neptune.

If the space between the planets in our solar system strains human comprehension, then the vast distance between stars and galaxies totally overwhelm us.  The distances are so immense, the questions of "How big?" and "How far?" are questions that challenge anyone's power of comprehension. The magnitudes of the universe also extend to speed. Scientist have discovered that the universe is a super-velocity race track whose giant planets move faster than speeding bullets.

To determine the speed of the universe we must first understand the celestial measuring stick known as the "light year." One light year is the distance light travels in one year. This amounts to about 6 trillion miles, or 186,000 miles per second. That's equivalent to light bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, 38 times in one second. 1,670 miles per second, and there is nothing on Earth that compares. An F15 can reach Mach 2.5, or 1500 mph.

What this astronomical speed (186,000 miles per second) means is that much of the cosmos is moving at speeds we cannot fully comprehend. Motion is actually the normal state of affairs in the universe. We may think we are standing still, and we are relative to the ground, but Earth is orbiting the Sun; the Sun is orbiting around the center of our galaxy - the Milky Way - our galaxy is orbiting our local group of galaxies; and all of these objects are moving at extremely high speeds. The earth is orbiting the Sun at a speed of roughly 66,000 miles per hour.

The Milky Way spans 100,000 light years across. The next galaxy over, Andromeda, is approximately 25 times the size of the Milky Way. 

The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth in the Andromeda constellation. Also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, it is often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts. The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest spiral galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy, but not the closest galaxy overall. It gets its name from the area of the sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda, which was named after the mythological princess Andromeda. The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which also contains the Milky Way, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 30 other smaller galaxies.

How Long is a Light-Year?

The light-year is a measure of distance, not time. It is the total distance that a beam of light, moving in a straight line, travels in one year. To obtain an idea of the size of a light-year, take the circumference of the earth (24,900 miles), lay it out in a straight line, multiply the length of the line by 7.5 (the corresponding distance is one light-second), then place 31.6 million similar lines end to end. The resulting distance is almost 6 trillion (6,000,000,000,000) miles!

Dark Matter

When the Universe was young, it was nearly smooth and featureless. As it grew older and developed, it became organized. We know that our solar system is organized into planets (including the Earth!) orbiting around the Sun. On a scale much larger than the solar system (about 100 million times larger!), stars collect themselves into galaxies. Our Sun is an average star in an average galaxy called the Milky Way. The Milky Way contains about 100 billion stars. Yes, that's 100,000,000,000 stars! On still larger scales, individual galaxies are concentrated into groups, or what astronomers call clusters of galaxies.

 

The cluster includes the galaxies and any material which is in the space between the galaxies. The force, or glue, that holds the cluster together is gravity -- the mutual attraction of everything in the Universe for everything else. The space between galaxies in clusters is filled with a hot gas. In fact, the gas is so hot (tens of millions of degrees!) that it shines in X-rays instead of visible light. In the image above, the hot X-ray gas (shown in pink) lying between the galaxies is superimposed on an an optical picture of the cluster of galaxies. By studying the distribution and temperature of the hot gas we can measure how much it is being squeezed by the force of gravity from all the material in the cluster. This allows scientists to determine how much total material (matter) there is in that part of space.

Remarkably, it turns out there is five times more material in clusters of galaxies than we would expect from the galaxies and hot gas we can see. Most of the stuff in clusters of galaxies is invisible and, since these are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity, scientists then conclude that most of the matter in the entire Universe is invisible. This invisible stuff is called 'dark matter', a term initially coined by Fritz Zwicky who discovered evidence for missing mass in galaxies in the 1930s.

There is currently much ongoing research by scientists attempting to discover exactly what this dark matter is, how much there is, and what effect it may have on the future of the Universe as a whole.

Source: NASA Imagine the Universe

Dark Matter and Dark Energy, makes up three-fourths of all matter and energy in the universe, a universe that is expanding and accelerating outwards. This virtually unknown matter, accounts for a large part of the total mass in the universe. It is estimated to constitute 84% to 96% of the matter in the universe. The consensus among cosmologists, is that dark matter is composed primarily of a not yet characterized type of subatomic particle.

What makes the matter or energy dark is that it emits little or no electromagnetic radiation, which is why we cannot see it even with the powerful Hubble telescope. Dark matter doesn't emit or absorb light, it does not interact with light at all. It is massive, it has gravity, but it's invisible, so far, from our earthly scientific perspective and from our 3-dimensional, space-time continuum. If you walk into a pitch-dark room, you won't be able to see any objects in the room, but that doesn't mean they are not there, especially if they exist on another plane, in another dimension. This concept sounds foreign, only when you look at it with your 5 earthly senses. Broaden the mind a bit, look at the dream state; when you're dreaming, time and space are never factors because the dream has taken you outside of your conscious dimension.

Much of the evidence for dark matter comes from the study of the motions of galaxies. This dark energy directly affects the speed of galaxies in a cluster of galaxies.

Scientist have come to the realization that, "it's not what shines in the light but what hides in the dark that holds the true secrets of our universe." The mysterious dark matter is what binds stars and galaxies together.

Dark matter exist in a hidden dimension. We see and recognize the space it takes up, we just don't know the contents of that space, but that does not lessen its value or purpose. We can't see the wind, but we know it's there, and it has a definite purpose.

Just as nothing is wasted in the Rainforest, nothing is useless or inconsequential in the universe. To explain the concept of the rainforest and how it relates to the significance of dark matter and the universe, take a look at this quote from "Beebe and Wolf."

  • Despite the importance of streams and rivers, they are only one part of the system that controls the movement of water and nutrients in the forest. The forest canopy also plays an important role by catching snow and rain and then releasing it slowly to the ground, thus preventing floods and landslides. Thick beds of moss, which cover the ground like giant sponges, help canopies moderate water flows by absorbing and filtering excess moisture. When water does reach the forest floor, it is channeled down the sides of steep rainforest valleys, through a maze of dead, hollow underground tree roots, thus preventing winter storms from washing away forest soils.
Absolutely amazing, because this clearly shows that everything in the rainforest is connected. The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world and covers 1.7 billion acres. One of the smallest inhabitants, but the most integral part of the rainforest ecosystem, are Leafcutter ants. These ants consume more vegetation than any other animal group. If these ants disappear, so to would the rainforest.

You will not see the Leafcutter ant if you walk into the massive Amazon rainforest just as we don't see dark matter; but without it, there would be no universe.