'You Are Only 62 Miles From Space Right Now' And More Of The Most Mind Blowing Space Facts That Astound People Most.
It's dark, it's cold, it's vast but boy is it cool! Space has held our curiosity since the beginning of humankind. For millennia, we've looked up at the stars in awe; a thousand questions popping into our mind.
Thanks to the powers of science and human ingenuity, we've managed to answer some of these burning space questions. Here, people discuss mind-blowing facts that left them awestruck.
1/25. You can fit every planet, right next to each other, in the distance between the earth and the moon! With room to spare!
2/25. A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.
3/25. Starquakes are a real thing. The crust of neutron stars can sometimes shift, producing an effect like an earthquake. However, it's many, many orders of magnitude more powerful than anything that can occur here on earth.
The strongest one ever recorded was the equivalent of a 22 on the Richter Scale. Starquakes emit immense gamma ray flares... if this one had occurred within 10 light years of earth, we would all be dead.
Yep... if a magnitude 22 starquake occurs within 58.79 trillion miles of earth, it could kill us.
4/25. A neutron star is so dense if you dropped a gummy bear from one meter above, it would hit the surface in a nanosecond at around 7,000,000 KM/H with the force of 1,000 nuclear bombs.
5/25. You remember the big discovery of gravitational waves earlier this year? It was also the first real direct observation of black holes- and what's crazier, it was two black holes that crashed into each other! And what had to happen for these two black holes to send off those gravitational waves for us to detect is more and more insane the more I learn about it.
First, it was determined that in their final seconds, these two black holes (which were about 36 and 29 times more massive than the sun, respectively) were spiralling around each other, faster and faster. In fact, just before the collision, they would have been orbiting each other 75 times a second, spaced just a few kilometers apart. Neutron stars spin that fast, sure, but they are tiny compared to such a system!
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Second, when these two black holes collided, the new resulting black hole would have been 62 solar masses. The smart ones will add the two previous numbers together and point out there are three solar masses missing- and you are right, because three suns worth of material vaporized during the collision. You know Einstein's famous E= mc2, right? Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Take three solar masses worth of mass, multiply it by the speed of light squared... and that is a lot of energy. As in, more energy than was released by the rest of the visible universe at that moment!
To really drive home how much energy this collision contained, think of it this way- the Death Star from Star Wars is a child's toy compared to what went down. People flipped out because one Earth-sized planet could be destroyed... and the Earth is over 300,000 times less massive than the sun. Multiply that by three.
I, for one, can't wait to hear what LIGO discovers next if this was their initial discovery!
6/25. This one is from XKCD:
Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:
A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or
The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?
The answer? The supernova, and it would be in the neighborhood of 1,000,000,000 times brighter...
7/25. Human skin is capable of protecting you from the vacuum of space just fine, as long as there's mesh in place to keep your flesh from bulging. There was even a space suit designed around it. It doesn't even attempt to be air-tight except for the head, of course.
8/25. There is a planet 63 light years away from us called HD 189733b that has an earth like blue hue to it. Except its not from vast oceans, but rather from an atmosphere of high clouds containing silicate particles, 2000 degree Fahrenheit daytime temperatures and 4500 mile per hour winds.
Meaning that it is entirely possible that if the silicate particles were to condense at that heat, it would rain glass on that planet... sideways.
9/25. People are actually much more complicated than stars! Stars all start out pretty much the same - giant balls of hydrogen (though differences in heavier elements certainly have noticeable effects on stars' lives). So when all stars start out more-or-less the same, we can usually make accurate predictions about their past, present, and future states. Red dwarf stars are even easier because they don't evolve, at all - they will never be large enough to start burning helium, so once the hydrogen is used up, it's over.
But how can we figure out how long a star will burn? (continued on the next page...)
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Well, we take what we know: the mass of a typical red dwarf, the energy output of a typical dwarf, and the energy produced by a single nuclear reaction in the star's core. Then we know how many reactions per second must occur to sustain its output, and how much mass that requires. When we know A) how much matter a star has and B)how much matter the star consumes per second, then it becomes rather simple to estimate it's lifespan. Lifespan = A/B.
10/25. It costs roughly $20,000 to send a kilogram of mass into orbit.
So if the largest whale on earth weighs approximately 163,293 kilograms, it costs over $3.2 billion.
11/25. It takes more fuel to go from the surface of Earth to space than from earth orbit to out of the solar system.
12/25. You are only 62 miles away from space right now.
13/25. Red dwarf stars are fully convective, meaning that the helium is mixed around the star, instead of going straight to the core. This means that they can live for over a trillion years, compared to the Sun's lifespan of 10 billion years.
14/25. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy are moving towards each other. They are scheduled to collide in a few billion years. This may seem scary, but (continued on the next page...).Continue onto the next page for more!
This may seem scary, but the space between planets and stars is so vast that there is pretty much no chance that anything will collide with anything else.
15/25. The Sun contains 99.8% of the mass in our solar system.
16/25. It's realllllllllllllllllly big.
Like, so big we can only see 46.5 billion light-years before we hit the edge of what's effectively a bubble that we're trapped in. We're trapped in it because the universe is accelerating faster than light itself can catch up, meaning that distant objects will gradually just hit the edge of the bubble - the edge of the observable universe - and poof no longer exist for us.
Eventually, if the Stelliferous Era wen't due to end so soon, every star would one day inhabit its own lonely universe, devoid of any other stars.
17/25. There are a certain type of neutron stars called magnetars. These stars have magnetic fields trillions of times more powerful than any ever created on Earth. If you were 1,000 km from this star (which is only 20km in diameter), you would be violently killed by having the iron in your blood being ripped out of your body.
18/25. Venus spins the opposite direction of pretty much everything else in the solar system. So on Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the East.
Putting the two together (the super slow rotation, and the opposite spin direction), there is (continued on the next page...).
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Putting the two together (the super slow rotation, and the opposite spin direction), there is a theory that Venus in fact was subject to a super giant space collision in the early solar system, which basically flipped it upside down and robbed it of its angular momentum.
19/25. It takes only 8 minutes for a photon to get from the Sun to the Earth. But it can take as long as 100,000 years for a photon to get from the core of the Sun to the surface.
20/25. I'm an astrophysicist and I think it's awesome that it's probably more accurate to think of space as hot than cold.
On a human scale, it's best to not think of space as having a temperature at all - it's just a vacuum, so it's basically just an excellent insulator. How hot it "feels" depends entirely on how much energy you receive in radiation and how much energy you produce, versus how much you emit (mostly in the infrared). So it can actually be an issue to keep electronics cool in space.
But on an astrophysical scale, we find that this vacuum isn't entirely a vacuum. It's a very very thin gas. It's just that the collisionless between gas particles are so rare that you need to think about thousands or millions of years for it to really start to look like a gas. And this gas does have a temperature, based on its kinetic energy. And it is hot. Within the disc of the Milky Way, most of the volume is 10,000 K. Intergalactic gas can get up to millions of degrees.
21/25. Our Sun converts mass to energy. It loses the equivalent of fifty-seven Titanics EVERY SECOND.
It's been doing that for 4.7 billion years. In that time, it has burned about the mass of the entire Earth one hundred times over.
It's about halfway through its lifespan.
If it were to continue burning fifty-seven Titanics for 10 billion years, then at the end of that period it would have used up less than one tenth of one percent of its total mass.
22/25. The planets orbit the sun but the sun is also orbiting the center of the galaxy and the galaxy is actually moving relative to other super clusters of galaxies. This means (continue onto the next page for more...).
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This means our solar system is better represented not as concentric rings but as a multiple helices streaking through space. So at any given moment you are in a brand new bit of space that you'll never be in again. Also, given the vast emptiness of space, you and maybe a few photons and neutrinos are almost certainly the only things that have ever been or ever will be in that part of space for the rest of time.
Also, space and time are essentially linked so if you were to travel back in time you'd actually be in empty space on a collision course with earth. If you traveled into the future you'd actually end up millions of miles behind earth in empty space.
23/25. When you're looking at the stars, you're looking back in time. The stars you're seeing could possibly no longer exist.
The reason being is that the closest star is 4.25 light-years away. Meaning that the light takes over 4 years to travel to us. So we're only seeing the star as it was 4 years ago.
The furthest visible star is over 16,000 light-years away, so we're looking back in time 16,000 years when we look at it. It could have been destroyed 1000 years ago.
I dunno, I think it's pretty neat.
24/25. There are more planets than humans.
25/25. We are all made of the exploded guts of long dead stars who died so you could eat lucky charms in your underwear while browsing the internet.