The Universe … It's Mind-Boggling!

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

We're getting so used to hearing gigantic numbers that a million begins to seem like no big deal. But try counting to a million sometime, and you'll realize how much it takes to make only one! When it comes to our universe, the numbers involved are truly phenomenal. Get your mind around these facts.

  • The universe is all light, matter, and energy that exist in time and space.
  • The Sun is only one of the more than 200 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Notice the location of our Sun in the Milky Way Galaxy, indicated on the lower portion of the picture.

  • The Sun is 30,000 light-years from the center of our galaxy.
  • The Sun is 93 million miles from Earth, yet it is 270,000 times closer than the next nearest star.
  • The Milky Way is one of billions of galaxies in the universe. There are as many galaxies as there are stars in the Milky Way.
  • The two nearest galaxies are Andromeda and the Magellanic Clouds.

Located 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda is our largest nearby galactic neighbor. The galaxy's entire disk spans about 260,000 light-years, which means that a light beam would take 260,000 years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. By comparison, our Milky Way galaxy's disk is about 100,000 light-years across.

  • Galaxies are grouped in clusters.
  • Some clusters are grouped in superclusters.
  • Globular clusters are stars grouped together in the shape of a ball.

All photos courtesy of NASA.

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