Saturday, January 25, 2014

Some of the weirdest and most wonderful facts of the universe

Gravitationally speaking the super-massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy has no idea that it is surrounded by over 300,000 stars and those 300,000 stars have no idea that the surround a super-massive black hole with the mass of 10 billion suns

The stars in the centre of our galaxy orbiting the invisible super-massive black hole

Light exists all around us, but in its own frame it is not there at all. If you travel at the speed of light it takes no time at all to get from one side of the universe to the other, even though it would take over 13 billion years from our point of view. To itself, in its own frame, light does not exist.

The cold gas and dust coming together to
form stars and galaxies

    When stars are forming they drop to temperatures close to absolute zero as the gas becomes essentially transparent to radiation before becoming opaque again and heating up to soaring temperatures as the gravitational pressure increases and ignites hydrogen burning.

    A cartoon of GJ 436b's interior

    Just 33 light years away from the Earth there is a planet called GJ 436b which is made of hot ice. This Neptune sized planet sits 50 times closer to its star than the Earth does to the Sun heating up its atmosphere to over 700 degrees. Yet compressed lower down in the planet is a shell of solid water ice at temperatures well above freezing but under so much pressure that it has no choice but to maintain a solid state. 

    The Andromeda nebula - the only naked eye
    galaxy in the northern hemisphere

    The universe is so big that reasonably we do not yet understand it all with the matter that makes up you, me and all the planets, stars, and galaxies we observe taking up just 4% of what we know. The rest occupied by dark matter and dark energy of which we know very little. It wasn't until 1923 when Edwin Hubble discovered that a small fuzzy blob called the Andromeda Nebula could not be part of our galaxy the milky way. Revealing for the first time that the universe is actually much, much bigger than our own little collection of stars. 
    And that the Andromeda nebula was not a nebula at all but another distinct collection of stars forming a vast galaxy separate from our own, just one of billions that occupy our universe. 
    The cosmic web of galaxies and dark matter that forms our universe from the millennium simulation


    Let me know what weird and wonderful facts I have missed in the comments box below

    Top to bottom: ESO;; ESA–AOES Medialab;; NASA; Millenium Simulation, MPA Garching, V. Springel, S. White et al.

    1 comment:

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