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Review of scale in the cosmos

Sequence of black holes

From big to massive, cosmic bodies continue to challenge to our science.

The Earth is big. Very big. I’m pretty sure that we are all aware of that. However, not as many people know that it’s tiny compared to the other planets in our solar system. Take Jupiter for example. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and you can fit 1,321 Earths inside it.

One cool thing about Jupiter is that it is made entirely out of gas. While Jupiter is very big, it’s dwarfed by the biggest object in our solar system: The sun.

The sun is a big ball of plasma that creates energy through the process of nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion, in simple terms, is the process in which two particles are fused together in order to create a heavier particle. Without the sun or nuclear fusion, life wouldn’t exist on Earth. Compared to the other stars in the galaxy, the sun is surprisingly average.

One star on the bigger side is Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and it’s about 8 and a half light years away from Earth. One fun fact about Sirius is that it is a binary star system. This means that the two stars in the system orbit each other.

Now we’re going to increase the size dramatically. The biggest star ever found is Stephenson 2-18. This star is a hypergiant located in the Scutum constellation. When stars like these get to the end of their life, they start losing their outward pressure, and gravity causes the star to collapse in on itself. This results in an explosion that outshines entire galaxies. These explosions are called supernovas.

There are certain objects that I haven’t talked about at all because I plan to go more in depth about them in a future article. One of those objects are black holes. I’m pretty sure we all know what a black hole is; however, not all of us know how they work and why they work. For this article, I’m just going to be talking about their size.

The largest black hole ever discovered is TON-618. This black hole is so big that it is 66 BILLION times the mass of our sun. This black hole engulfs the solar system many times over. Even with all of this being said, we haven’t even scratched the surface of how big things can really get.

We live in the milky way galaxy, which is about 100,000 light years in diameter. But our galaxy isn’t the only galaxy out there. Another galaxy that we’re on a collision course with is the Andromeda galaxy. And when you take a lot of galaxies and put them in one group, you get a galaxy cluster.

When you take a bunch of galaxy clusters and put them in one group, you get a galaxy supercluster. There are about 10 million galaxy superclusters in the observable universe.

There is only one more object left. Galactic filaments are a group of galaxy superclusters that form a structure. The largest known galactic filament is the hercules-corona-borealis great wall. This structure is so unbelievably massive, that it shouldn’t even exist.

The Hercules-Corona-Borealis great wall contradicts the cosmological principle, which says that up to enormous scales of 1.2 billion light years, the universe should be the same length in every direction. But coming in at around 10 billion light years, the great wall is about 8 times bigger than the cosmological limit.

The universe is a very mysterious place, but that is what makes it such an interesting place as well. So stick around as I talk more about space and how the universe works.



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