It”s human nature to think that we are the center of the universe. While it would be great if that were true, it”s sadly not the case. In the grand scheme of things, we humans barely even register. From any great distance, it would be impossible to pick out our sun from among the billions upon billions of stars in our galaxy and the universe at large.
Many folks find humanity”s cosmic insignificance to be pretty terrifying, but contemplating that insignificance every once in a while is actually beneficial to one”s worldview. Try it out as you look at these photos of the wonderful, vast, and terrifying universe above you.
1. The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photograph. Every point of light you see here is a galaxy as massive and diverse as our own Milky Way.
2. This is a cluster of five galaxies known as Stephan”s Quintet, or the Hickson Compact Group 92.
And just a reminder…this is how big YOU are. (Well, how big Earth is.)
…compared to the sun…
…and to other suns…
That comparison is what makes these images so stunning. Each of these itty bitty dots are gigantic galaxies that are in an even gigantic-er universe. (Feel small yet?)
3. The great clouds of the Carina Nebula.
4. The extremely hot remains of a supernova from 20,000 years ago. That ring is about a light-year across.
5. The purple area here highlights the distribution of dark energy in this galaxy cluster.
6. Inside this breathtaking nebula 7,500 light-years away, dozens of new stars are being born.
7. Meet galaxy NGC 2841.
8. You”re viewing one of the oldest galaxies in the universe. Its stars formed about 200 million years after the Big Bang.
9. These two neighboring galaxies look a bit like a rose because of the gravitational forces acting on them.
10. Our own sun throwing off a powerful flare.
11. 11.5 million light-years away are these beautiful remnants of a supernova in the M82 galaxy.
12. This supernova was a little closer to home, only 150,000 light-years away. One day our sun will suffer a similar fate.
13. See that bright spot? That”s the beginning of what will eventually become a massive galaxy. The light it”s giving off is as bright as a million stars.
14. This massive black hole is located in the center of one of the smallest galaxies ever discovered.
15. This picture shows a giant cluster of 3,000 young stars named Westerlund 2.
The way I see it, contemplating our insignificance in the universe isn”t about realizing how much we don”t matter. Instead, it”s a study in understanding that life and its meaning are what you make it.
For more awesome space pics make sure to check out these stories…