16 Mind-Blowing Space Facts You Should Know

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When you consider the fact that we don’t even know everything there is to know about our planet, and that there are billions of Earth-sized planets out there, it is truly mind-boggling. Not only this, but there are also billions of planets several times bigger than our own.

Who knows how many galaxies and stars in space! It is truly limitless in its vastness and beauty.

Today, we are going to present to you some facts about space that you may or may not know.

Credit: NASA

01 - There are objects out there that have accuracy similar to an atomic clock.

They are named pulsars, and they are the clocks of the universe. These celestial objects spin at exact intervals of time with an accuracy rivaling that of an atomic clock. These stars are one of the most deeply studied in astronomy, and they are a type of neutron star.

02 - Most stars that we see from Earth are star systems

Certain stars are gravitationally bound to one another. Though to the naked eye, these celestial objects may seem like one star; they are usually two or more stars there, which are orbiting around one another.

A famous example of this is the asterism known as Orion’s Belt. There are three giant stars here: Mintaka, Alnitak, and Alnilam.

Though Alnilam is a single star, Mintaka is actually a  several star system while Alnitak is a triple star system.

One of the closest stellar systems to us is the Alpha Centauri system. It is comprised out of three stars, but the best part is, a planet is also present there. This makes it the closest stellar system to us to have a planet.

Star Systems
Star Systems, Credit: NASA

03 - Space is dead silent, but it also has a smell

There is no atmosphere in space; the sound has no medium to travel and be heard. However, every celestial object emits sounds, even our planet Earth.

These sounds have been recorded and presented online. But how does space smell like? According to astronauts that have returned from space, they noticed a burnt like smell. It is believed that space has an “acrid” and “metallic” scent.

04 - The biggest canyon in the solar system is located on Mars.

It is named the Valles Marineris, and it is 4.000 km / 2.500 mi long and has a depth of up to 7 km / 4 mi. The Grand Canyon on Earth is only 800 km / 500 mi long and has a depth of 1.6 km / 1 mi. Though Mars is smaller than Earth, it seems it has other features that dwarf ours.

Valles Marineris canyon
Valles Marineris canyon, Credit: NASA

05 - Though objects cannot exceed the speed of light, these rules do not apply to pure space.

We’ve known for a couple of years that the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light. Space itself is expanding, and our current understanding is that a mysterious force known as dark energy is responsible for it. Currently, this hypothetical form of matter is still much debated, and little is known about it.

06 - When it comes to our solar system, only Mercury and Venus have no moons.

Some moons are even bigger than Mercury, such as Ganymede, the biggest moon of Jupiter, or Titan, the biggest moon of Saturn.

Currently, recent observations have placed Saturn as the king of moons in the solar system, dethroning Jupiter. Saturn has 82 confirmed moons while Jupiter has 79.

Probably the most atypical moon in the solar system is that of Pluto, which is Charon. Charon is more than half the same size as Pluto.

07 - Though Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it is actually Venus who is the hottest.

This might be surprising, but there is an explanation. Venus has an atmosphere that traps the temperatures on its surface. This creates a greenhouse effect, and thus, the high temperatures remain constant at around 864 degrees Fahrenheit.

08 - There is liquid water flowing in space

Due to surface tension, water forms itself into a sphere in space. There are also enormous water vapor clouds floating in space. Some of them have trillions of times the mass of water in Earth’s atmosphere.

09 - Speaking of water, if you could place Saturn on water, the gas giant would float.

This is because Saturn is the only planet in our solar system, which is mostly made of gas and thus is less dense than water.

10 - Though we have deeply studied our planet, we know less about our oceans than some celestial objects.

For example, we have already mapped the surface of Mars and our Moon. We even have mostly mapped that of Pluto; however, we’ve mapped less than 10% of our ocean floor.

Pluto mapped surface
Pluto mapped surface, Credit: NASA

11 - Much of the Universe is actually invisible to us

We can merely see around 5% of the universe. The rest of it is made out of invisible theoretical matter named dark energy, which is believed to consist of approximately 68% of the world and dark matter which is at about 27%.

12 - Our Earth may seem like a quiet place, at least in comparison to other planets. However, this can’t be further from the truth.

At least 2,000 thunderstorms are happening on Earth at any given moment. Around 16 million thunderstorms are occurring each year.

13 - Galaxies are actually visible to the naked eye

Around 3 to 7 galaxies can be seen with the unaided eye. The Andromeda Galaxy, both the dwarf Magellanic Clouds galaxies, the Milky Way, Triangulum Galaxy, Omega Centauri, and the Saggitarius Dwarf Spheroidal galaxy, can easily be seen without technological aid.

14 - The most important galaxy, and the closest to us, is the Andromeda Galaxy. It will collide with us in the far future.

The reason why the Andromeda Galaxy is so essential is that it revealed to us the sheer vastness of the universe. Less than 100 years ago, we thought that our galaxy was the whole universe.

This changed when the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble studied a nebula. This nebula was called the Andromeda Nebula, and it was later revealed to be a galaxy.

Upon this discovery, we realized that there are other galaxies out there and in different shapes and sizes. We have also discovered that the Andromeda galaxy is set on a course collision with our own Milky Way galaxy. This event will happen in around 4.5 billion years, or even sooner.

15 - Space is full of black holes and even voids

Nothing is scarier than a black hole. Imagine something which, in some instances, can be around half the size of our solar system, pulling you in it. However, black holes are not the monsters we made them out to be.

It appears you have to be really close to them to be drawn in. If a black hole replaced our sun, it wouldn’t be able to drag any planet in it.

Apparently, there are millions of black holes in the universe, but there is something a bit scarier than a black hole, a void. Voids are regions of space that have very few or no galaxies in them. Some voids are several galaxies big, between 10 to 100 megaparsecs.

Space Black holes
Credit: NASA

16 - The Milky Way galaxy is part of a conglomeration of galaxies

It is known as the Local Group. The Andromeda Galaxy is also part of this. The Local Group is composed out of 50 or more galaxies. It has a diameter of around three megaparsecs.

The Local Group itself is part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is an enormous collection of more than a million galaxies. The Virgo Supercluster is itself part of the Local Supercluster, otherwise known as Laniakea. This colossal structure extends up to 160 megaparsecs.

Local Group
Local Group, Credit: NASA

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