The universe is vast — so vast that it is actually an understatement to say vast.
No adjectives can reveal the size of the universe — it bends human comprehension. With the new James Webb telescope coming online, we’ll learn more about the universe in the years ahead.
For now, let’s review some out-of-this universe facts and stats:
* Currently, most scientists believe that light sets the universal upper-speed limit at 186,000 miles per second. To put that into perspective, a flight from New York to Tokyo is only about 6,700 miles. Thus, a beam of light could travel back and forth between the two cities over twenty times in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, the sun is over 90 million miles from earth and it takes about eight minutes for sunlight to reach earth.
But if the speed limit is 186,000 miles per hour, speed is not the key to visiting other galaxies or planets. The closest spiral galaxy to ours is Andromeda, about 2.5 million light years away. If you could travel as fast as light (still debatable), it would take 2.5 million years to get there.
So what we see today in the Andromeda galaxy, using something like the Webb telescope, is actually ancient history — events that occurred millions of years ago.
If speed is the only way to travel, and if light speed is the limit, all planets are profoundly isolated.
* Closer to home, the moon is right next door. However, in space, even “next door” is a long way away. You could fit all the planets in our solar system, including massive Jupiter and Saturn, in the space between the earth and the moon, according to Universe Today.
* Meanwhile, galaxies appear to rotate around supermassive black holes, which generate so much gravity that light cannot escape. The black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is believed to have a mass roughly 4 million times that of our sun, which has a mass equal to about 330,000 Earths.