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Sunday, January 17, 2016


Our Universe continues to amaze me.  First, everything we see, apparently, only represents 4.6% of everything there is:

Scientist have yet to discover (see, measure, whatever) the more than 95% that is there, they think.

These facts we know for sure.  It took me 65 days to travel around the world, or 5.6 million seconds.  Light takes 7.5 seconds to go around the world.  Let's look at this another way.  If we could travel this fast, how long would it take to make one global journey:
  • Fastest land speed is an amazing 760 miles/hour = 32.8 hours
  • X-15 jet reached a speed of 4520 MPH                = 330 minutes
  • Astronauts traveled 24,791 MPH on re-entry       = 1 minute
  • Voyager I now traveling in space, 38,000 MPH   = 39 seconds
    • fastest man-made object in space
  • Light                                                                      = 0.14 seconds
Here is one mind-boggling fact:  it would take light 100,000 years to travel from just one end of our Milky Way Galaxy to the other.  That's about when in time our earliest Homo sapiens appeared on Planet Earth.  Let's say, someday, we actually build a spacecraft that can approach the speed of light.

Forgetting how much energy this will take, which makes the trip essentially impossible, this spaceship would need 2.54 million years to get from Earth to the next galaxy, Andromeda,  our closest neither (above). And there could well be 500 billion galaxies out there.  Hopefully there will be wormholes (left) and similar fantasy stuff for inter-galactic travel some day.

The sense is that there are maybe 200 million stars in each galaxy, although some could well have 100 trillion stars.  It is a huge guess, but, just in the observable Universe, there are 70 billion trillion (7 times 10 to the 22nd power) stars.

One such star, a massive one, approximately 10,000 years ago, but observed this past June, collapsed in on itself and exploded as a supernova.  Scientists just measured it and reported it was the largest observed explosion ever, 50 times brighter than the Milky Way!  No human eye could observe this event on Earth, but here is an artist's impression of what this would have looked like from a planet in that galaxy.

However, that was nothing compared to SN 1006, a supernova which occurred around 8000 years ago and seen in the year 1006.  This event was ten times brighter than Venus and visible during the day, casting a shadow.  From Egypt, the light was like a quarter Moon.  From China, objects could be seen at night.  The gamma ray flux was measured in Antarctic ice nitrate deposits.

There was initial speculation for the first rings seen space, 100 of them, around what could be a giant planet or brown dwarf or maybe a new star.  The latest news is that this was an exoplanet 12 times more massive than Jupiter, but with 30 rings 200 times larger than Saturn's

 420 light years away, and,  if this system were located where Saturn spins, J1407b would be as bright from Earth as the Moon.
Again, a sketch by an artist.  This system is

So here is something to sleep over.  Our Universe is so large that light has not had time to cross over it since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Oh, that egg to the left is a map of the background radiation from the Big Bang.


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