Monday, February 19, 2007

Do you really know where you live?

At the end of this post is one of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen. It's from NASA's Hubble telescope, and shows levels of substance and activity in space that we've never imagined. Here's a little bit of background on the picture:
  • It's focused on 1/10,000,000 of the visible sky, and what was thought to be a particular "void and boring" section of the sky. If you took a dime, drilled a hole in the "O" of In God We Trust, then held the dime at arm's length, this picture is of that tiny visible section in the "O" of the dime.
  • Each light or speck in the picture is an entire galaxy. There are more than ten thousand of them in the picture.
  • Our Milky Way galaxy has over 200 billion stars like our sun.

So basically, in the tiniest point of supposedly empty space, there are at least 2 quadrillion stars (that's a thousand trillion). The numbers are so big that they're basically meaningless to me. All in that little speck of visible space.

Douglas Adams is one of the only writers who can do it justice, in the introduction to his classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big
it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store,
but that's just peanuts to space."

So here's the picture. On Thursday night I'll write about what I see, but for a few days I'll just let it sit here so you can think about how it impacts you, if it does.

(Click on it for a bigger view)

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Anonymous said...

My favorite 'stars' are the ones that look like crosses are going through the bright center/circle. And, HEY!, did you notice, when you enlarge the picture, that the one near the bottom left, besides having a swirling 'S' in it also has the SUPER BOWL TROPHY in it!!!
NEAT, huh??!! LOVE YOU, Mom

Redlefty said...

I think you're right -- the ones with the crosses are actual, individual stars. All the rest are entire galaxies (billions of stars each).

You WOULD be the one to see the Super Bowl trophy! :)