Compiled below are 10 facts that completely blew our minds when we read them. It’s hard to believe how massive our galaxy is and how much of it we don’t yet understand. Space is a fascinating place that we are continuing to learn more and more about. What’s great is when we learn things about our galaxy that almost seem unbelievable at first.
1. The Largest Star
The largest star discovered by mankind so far is called UY Scuti, and according to The Daily Research, if it were to replace the sun, it would engulf everything in our galaxy up to Saturn! Although a number of sources claim stars like VY Canis Majoris are the largest, there are actually 7 discovered stars that are known to be bigger than VY Canis Majoris. Here is a video showing how small our planet is compared to VY Canis Majoris, the largest star known at the time of the video.
2. Methane Rain On Titan
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, rains down liquid methane onto its surface. It gets cold enough on Titan’s surface to condense the methane gas into a liquid where it pours down much like the rain cycle that we have on Earth.
3. Winter Is Coming
The north and south poles on Uranus go through light and dark cycles that span 42 years long, according to Universe Today. This means the south pole will experience 42 straight years of constant daylight, followed by 42 straight years of constant darkness. Talk about a long winter.
4. Space Is Not Empty
Unlike what most people believe, space isn’t a total vacuum. On average, there are roughly 3 atoms found in 1 cubic metre of space. Scattered atoms are floating around everywhere in space. This is caused by the violent nature of how stars, planets, comets, and other formations collide and interact with each other, spewing out articles across the entire universe.
5. The Sun Isn’t Special
Our Sun is just like any other star out there. In fact, it is pretty unimpressive when you stack it up against some of the giants out there. VY Canis Majoris, for example, makes our Sun look like a small pebble when you place them next to each other at scale.
What’s surprising is that only 55% of people that live in America know this. The other 45% of Americans do not know that the sun is a star, according to the 1989 edition of Uncle John’s Second Bathroom Reader.
6. Jupiter Has Over 67 Moons
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has over 67 moons. We say “over 67” because we can only count the moons that we have found so far. Astronomers believe there are many more undiscovered moons revolving around the gas giant that we haven’t discovered yet.
7. Saturn Would Float
If you placed Saturn in a giant tub of water, it would actually float on top of it. Saturn is mostly made up of gasses. This means it is less dense than liquid water and would float on top of it in this fictional scenario.
8. Dark Matter And Dark Energy
Only a small portion of our universe is made up of the matter that we can recognize. About 25% of the content of our universe is made up of dark matter and 70% is made up of dark energy.
Dark matter and dark energy are terms that astronomers use to describe unidentifiable matter and energy. They are not yet able to observe it directly, but they can use indirect methods to determine it is there.
9. Our Nearest Black Hole
The nearest known black hole to us is about 1,600 light years away from Earth. It may sound like a lot at first, but it is not very far on the grand scale of things. If you scale it down to a football field, the black hole would only be 1.5 yards away from you.
10. Pluto Is Not A Planet
This was debated for years. Many thought Pluto should no longer be recognized as a planet due to its size. Finally, the community came to an agreement and declared that Pluto was not a planet. Instead, they now refer to it as a dwarf planet.
Featured photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr.com