30 Interesting Space Facts That You May Not Know

For space lovers like myself, there is almost nothing as fascinating as the idea of getting to know new things about the universe. Five years ago, I didn’t have the amount of enthusiasm about the space and activities that I have right now and much of that change is due to the hunger of giving our readers the information they need in perfect quantity and quality. Well, enough of the philosophy and let us get started on few coolest space facts that you should know.

30. The estimated age of the universe is about 13.8 billion years, which, according to most scientists started after a big bang, which is known as the Big Bang theory.

29. The nearest star system to the Earth is the Alpha Centauri situated at a distance of 4.3 light years. The star system consists of Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B and a red dwarf known as Proxima Centauri.

28. Situated at a distance 2.5 million light years away from the Earth, Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. According to an estimation, the Andromeda galaxy contains nearly 1 trillion stars, more than twice of what we have in the Milky Way (200-400 billion stars).

27. While it’s not confirmed yet, a galaxy designated as MACS0647-JD is the best candidate for the farthest known galaxy from the Earth. The estimation was done with the help of photometric redshift.

26. Based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers predict that there are over 100 billion galaxies with over 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

hubbleHubble Space telescope

25. There are more than 17 satellite galaxies to the Milky Way. A satellite galaxy’s relation to a major galaxy is much like the relation between the Earth and the Moon, or the Sun and other planets in the solar system. The closest satellite galaxy to the Milky Way is Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy, currently at about 70,000 light years away from the Earth.

24. The first scientific detection of an extra-solar planet was announced in 1988 with the discoveries of PSR B1257+12 (also the first pulsar planet), Gamma Cephei Ab and HD 114762 b. At the moment, there are 3,693 planets that are cataloged as an exoplanet, but that’s about to change soon.

23. With a scorching surface temperature of 6000 Kelvin, the Kepler-70 b is undoubtedly the hottest planet in the galaxy. At this temperature, the planet should be much hotter than most of the stars visible in the night sky, it’s even hotter than the visible outer layer of the Sun.

22. Well, you are most probably familiar with the Big Bang theory, where everything we see around us emerged from a singularity after a big bang. But there are a few other theories that try to explain the origin of the universe from a different point of view. You can read them here.

21. OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb is the coldest exoplanet discovered to date. But the estimated distance of 21,500 light years between the exoplanet and our Earth, makes OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb the farthest one too. The next is a pulsar planet designated as PSR B1620-26 b is one of the oldest exoplanets known.

20. The nearest exoplanet to our solar system and the Earth is the newly found Proxima b, revolving around the Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf in the Alpha Centauri star system.

19. Apart from Magellanic Clouds, only three groups of galaxies are visible with the naked eye (Milky Way excluded). This includes the Local group, Centaurus A/M83 Group, and M81 group, of which only Bode’s galaxy is visible without the help of a telescope.

18. The estimated width of the Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years.

17. A pulsar is magnetized neutron star which rotates at a furious speed and emits a powerful beam of electromagnetic radiation from near its poles. The first such object of this kind was discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.

space facts pulsarComposite optical/X-ray image of the Crab Nebula which contains Crab Pulsar

16. During the month of August 1977, a group of astronomers reported a strong radio signal from an unknown origin, which was detected with the help of Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope. The signal was coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. The discovery was actually made a couple of days after the radio signals were first recorded when astronomer Jerry R. Ehman noticed a remarkable the anomaly while going through some previous data.

In Early 2017, almost 40 years after the events of 1977, many astronomers had suggested that the signals could have been caused by more than one periodic comets orbiting in our solar system. Specifically, the 2016 paper mentioned 2 comets, P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) and 266P/Christensen, which were both in the area where the Wow! signal
 was detected.

15. The Betelgeuse is one of the biggest stars in the observable universe. If you put this star at the position of our Sun, it would entirely fill the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and possibly Jupiter’s.

14. Common dung beetles use the Milky Way galaxy or a cluster of bright stars to navigate. They are the only living organism known to do this.

13. If your eyesight was as powerful as the gigantic camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, then you would be able to see a fine printed newspaper from 1 mile away.

12. A Galactic merger is a term given to phenomena when at least two or more galaxies merge. Right now, there are a few pairs of galaxies that appear to be in the process. One such pair of galaxies is NGC 7318.

11. Simulations predict that our Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy will collide with each other in about 4 billion years.

Andromeda Collides Milky WayImage Courtesy: NASA

10. Quasars are the most luminous stellar object in the universe, which can sometimes be 4 trillion times brighter than the Sun. First discovered by Maarten Schmidt, quasars are the violent galactic nucleus containing a supermasive black hole, which is surrounded by a huge disc of gas clouds.

9. Located at 26,000 light years away from the Earth near the galactic core, the Sagittarius B contains billions and billions of liters of alcohol. Sagittarius B is a huge molecular gas cloud spanning trillions of kilometers. The observations were conducted with the help of the 12 Meter Telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona.

8. With a mass of more than 3 quadrillion suns, the ACT-CL J0102-4915 AKA ‘El Gordo’ is the largest galaxy cluster detected in the distant universe. The discovery was made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Atacama Cosmology Telescope.

7. Like planets, stars are also not perfect spheres. Due to their rotation they become flattened near the poles. But a team of astronomers, using asteroseismology has now discovered the most-rounded star known to us. The star is designated as Kepler 11145123.The difference between the equatorial and polar radii of the star is only 3 kilometers – which is too small compared to the star’s average radius of 1.5 million kilometers

6. Using NASA’s WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) telescope, scientists have discovered a class of extremely cold star-like bodies with an estimated temperature similar to that of a human body. Astronomers have named them Y dwarfs, a class of brown dwarfs.

Y dwarfImage Courtesy: NASA

5. Recently separate teams of astronomers have captured a faint glimpse of the largest water reservoir in the distant universe. It’s estimated that the water present near a huge quasar situated 12 billion light-years away is more than 140 trillion times the water in the world’s ocean combined.

4. Unlike the black hole, the concept of a white hole is largely unknown, but the possibility of such region in space-time is granted by many scientists since the mid 1980s. In simple terms, a while hole is just the opposite of the black hole, where everything comes out but nothing goes in.

Read: All Interesting Facts About Black Holes and White Holes

3. The red supergiant UY Scuti, located at the distance of 9,500 light years in constellation Scutum in the Milky Way galaxy, is currently the biggest known star to humans in the distant universe. Compared to the Sun, it has 1,700 times its radius, 30 times its mass and 5 billion times its volume.

2. According to the adjusted Hubble constant, the universe is expanding at a rate of 72 (km/s)/Mpc. However, this was not the case before as Hubble originally misinterpreted several key variables important for determining the expansion rate the Universe that led the value of Hubble constant to 500 (km/s)/Mpc. If it was really the case, then the universe would be just 2 billion years old, which is much younger than the Earth.

Sun orbit around the galactic coreCourtesy: ESO, European Southern Observatory

Read: Origin Of The Universe: 7 Different Theories

1. Moon continuously revolves around the Earth in a similar way that the Earth revolves around the Sun. But do you know that our solar system revolves too? That’s right, our solar system along with other star systems in the Milky Way Galaxy revolves around the Galactic core. The rate at which our solar system completes one revolution is around 250 million terrestrial years at an average speed of 830,000 km/h within its trajectory.

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