Well, this blew me away today…
If you know me well enough you know that I love the Universe. Yeah, I said it. I’m constantly reading articles, listening to podcasts and seeing pictures that make my mind melt. The aspect of the Universe that gets me the most is the sheer scale of it (not that there is a finite size to it, but that’s for another post).
The Universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old and bigger than imagination can fathom. The Milky Way Galaxy, our home, holds about 100 billion stars and is 100 000 light-years across. So, take that dinky laser pointer off of your desk, shine it from one end of the Milky Way and it would take over 1300 human lifetimes to get to the other side.
Remember…that is only our galaxy. Got that in mind? Good. Now look at this.
This is an image taken recently by Herschel (one of the newest and most advanced satellites) and depicts what looks like static on a really messed up LCD TV. The colourful dots range from white, to blue to red and the more red the dot, the more distant it is (this is due to the red-shifting of light as it travels long distances). EACH dot is a galaxy, some like ours, that contain anywhere from 100-400 billion stars. Feel small yet?
Due to the fact that the galaxies are so far away, we can estimate that this snapshot of time is essentially looking back 10-12 billion years ago.
That’s a lot of lifetimes.