Space Is Really Really Big

Ken AshfordGodstuff, Science & TechnologyLeave a Comment

Space is in the news lately, because of the release of the first photographs of another planetary system.  We've been aware of other planets outside the Solar system for quite some time, but we only know about them because we are able to see their effects (kind of like looking at the wave of a speedboat traveling on the water to determine that the speedboat in fact exists).

But now…

For the first time, astronomers have taken a visual image of a multiple-planet solar system beyond our own.

Using the Gemini North telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatoryon Hawaii's Mauna Kea, researchers observed in infrared light three planets orbiting around a star about 130 light-years away from Earth, called HR 8799. The discovery, published today in Science Express, is a step forward in the hunt for planets, and life, beyond Earth.

The alien system is supersized compared to our own: All three planets are gas giants, weighing roughly 10, 10 and 7 times the mass of Jupiter, circling a parent star 1.5 times the mass of our sun, and 5 times as bright. The giant bodies (two of which are pictured above) are orbiting at roughly 25, 40, and 70 times the distance between Earth and our sun. If there are Earth-sized planets present, they are too small to see with current technology.


That's pretty cool, but what is also circulating around, not that the Hubble is being operational once again, is this photo of a galaxy cluster taken by the Hubble telescope:


That, my friends, is a cluster of galaxies, each one (like our Milky Way galaxy) containing hundreds of billions of stars.

Our own Milky Way is in a galaxy cluster of 40 galaxies.

And there are hundreds of galaxy clusters that was know of.

So we're talking about an astronomical (heh) number of galaxies in the entire universe.  And since each galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, that means — how many stars?

And when you think about planets surrounding those stars?

My point here is that space is really really big, and to think that God created the Earth first, and then the heavens is egocentric, vain and ignorant.