Space is an absolutely awesome place. The expanse of the universe is almost incalculable, and the wonders it holds are even harder to imagine. From a galactic-style kegger, to the most massive structure known to man, let’s take a look at some of the most amazing things that us humans have found.
1. Mars has the biggest volcano known to mankind
Olympus Mons on Mars is the biggest volcano that we know of. The volcano stands a staggering 16 miles tall and is 374 miles across. That is three times larger than Mount Everest, and about the size of Arizona, respectively.
Volcanoes on Mars can grow to this size because Mars doesn’t have tectonic plates like the Earth does. Don’t get too excited to see a massive eruption, though. Mars’s core has cooled, and it is believed that all volcanic activity has ceased to exist.
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2. We can’t count how many stars there are in the universe
The way we calculate the number of stars in the universe is by multiplying different estimates together. We take the estimated number of stars in our own galaxy, and then multiply that with the estimated number of galaxies in the universe.
But if you want to know the exact number, no one can tell you. There’s no telling if the universe is infinitely large, or if there are multiple universes to factor in too. Suffice to say, there are a zillion stars in the known universe. And in this case, the word “zillion” is just a fancy way of saying “uncountable.”
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3. Cold welding
When two like metals bump into each other in space, they will fuse together on their own. This process is called cold welding. It’s not possible in the atmosphere of Earth because there are other elements that keep them separate.
Just imagine what this could mean when you are building a spaceship in orbit.
Next: You might say this is the largest swimming hole in the universe.
4. A giant oasis in deep space
There is a giant reservoir across the galaxy that is holding roughly 140 trillion times more water than the Earth. It is a ball of water vapor surrounding a black hole that is approximately 10 billion light-years away from us. So, if we are ever on a journey that far into deep space, at least we know where we could grab a drink.
Next: Humans can’t even keep space clean.
5. Earth is surrounded by a proverbial landfill
For decades, we have been launching satellites into space and building space stations. Any time you do this, there is going to be some waste. It is estimated that there are about 17,000 trackable pieces of space junk that are larger than a coffee mug surrounding our planet. If we include everything down to the size of a nut or bolt, it’s around 500,000 pieces of junk. We have essentially created a junkyard in orbit, with objects traveling up to 17,500 miles per hour.
Next: That should make you want to grab a drink.
6. There is such a thing as ‘space booze’
There is an entire nebula that is made primarily of ethyl alcohol. In theory, it holds about 400 trillion pints of beer. Basically, there is a kegger at the center of the galaxy. It would take us 10,000 years to get there if we traveled at the speed of light. All I want to know is: Who’s driving?
Next: Apparently God stopped at the kegger before building this structure.
7. The largest structure in space shouldn’t exist
The large quasar group is the largest structure known to man in the universe. It is roughly 4 billion light-years across. To put that into perspective, our galaxy is just 100,000 light-years across. Most astronomers didn’t think that it was possible for structures to get that big.
Next: The real story of fire and ice.
8. This exoplanet is an ice cube on fire
The exoplanet, Gliese 436 b, has extremely high atmospheric pressure. The pressure is so high that its water remains in a solid form. Conversely, the planet also maintains a temperature of 300 degrees Celsius. I guess this planet could end the age-old debate of whether to treat sore muscles with heat or ice.
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9. How long is a galactic year?
We always judge our lives by the solar year, or what time of the day it is. But have you ever thought about how long it takes our sun to complete a trip around the galaxy? One galactic year can take 230 million Earth years. The last time our sun was where it is now in the Milky Way galaxy, dinosaurs were first starting to appear.
Next: The biggest diamond we have ever known.
10. A diamond the size of a small sun
PSR J2222-0137 is the leftover husk of a larger star that died some 11 billion years ago. The star is what is known as a white dwarf. It didn’t blow up and collapse upon itself to create a neutron star or pulsar. It just gradually puffed up and let its outer layers go. By going out in a sort of whimper, this allowed the star to slowly compress itself into a diamond. It was mostly carbon by the end of its life and didn’t go supernova like most larger stars.
Obviously, the star is not a pure diamond, as there are other elements that are inside it as well. But when you are looking at a diamond the size of a sun, it really doesn’t matter. The mass is calculated to weigh a million, trillion, trillion pounds.
Don’t expect to go on a mining mission anytime soon. This giant diamond is approximately 900 light-years away.
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