10. Hypervelocity Stars
Everyone knows that shooting stars are just meteors entering the atmosphere, right? If you didn’t, congratulations you just failed the fourth grade. What some people don’t know, however, is that real shooting stars exist as well; they’re called hypervelocity stars. These are big, fiery balls of gas rocketing through space at millions of miles per hour.When a binary star system is gobbled down by the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy, one of the two partners is consumed, while the other is ejected at high speed. Just try to imagine a huge ball of gas, four times the size of our sun, hurtling out from our galaxy at millions of miles per hour.
9. The Planet From Hell
Gliese 581 c wants to kill you. This planet orbits a red dwarf star, many times smaller than our Sun, with a luminosity of only 1.3% of our sun. This means that the planet is far closer to its star than we are to ours. Because of this, it is stuck in a state of tidal locking, meaning that one side of the planet is always facing the star, and one side is always facing away, just like our moon’s relationship with Earth.The tidal locking of the planet alone results in some pretty odd features. Stepping out onto the star-side of the planet would immediately melt your face off, whereas standing on the opposite side of the planet, where there is no sun, would freeze you instantly. However, in between these two extremes is a small belt where life could theoretically exist.
8. The Castor System
As if one or two giant, fiery balls of gas weren’t enough, here we have the Castor System. As one of the two bright stars from the Gemini constellation in our night sky, it has some serious luminosity. This is because the Castor System isn’t one, or two, but six stars, all orbiting around a common central mass.Three binary star systems orbit each other here, with two hot and bright A-Type stars being stuck in the system, as well as four M-type red dwarves. All together, though, these six stars put out roughly 52.4 times more luminosity than that of our sun.
7. Space Raspberries and Rum
For the last few years, scientists have been studying a dust cloud near the center of our Milky Way galaxy. If there’s a God out there, it seems that he decided to get creative—this dust cloud, named Sagittarius B2, smells of rum and tastes like raspberries.The gas cloud in question consists largely of ethyl formate, which is known to give raspberries their taste, and rum its distinctive smell. This large cloud is said to contain a billion, billion, billion liters of the stuff—which would be great, if it wasn’t rendered undrinkable by pesky particles like propyl cyanide.The creation and distribution of these more complex molecules is still a mystery to scientists, however, so we won’t be opening up an intergalactic pub anytime soon.
6. A Planet of Burning Ice
Do you remember Gliese? That hell-hole of a star that we talked about earlier? We’re heading back to the same solar system for this one. As if one murderous planet wasn’t enough, Gliese supports a planet made almost entirely out of ice, that’s at 439 degrees Celsius. Gliese 436 b is, quite simply, a burning ice cube. Imagine Hoth from Star Wars, except that it’s on fire. The only reason this ice stays solid is because of the huge amount of water present on the planet; the gravity pulls it all in towards the core, keeping the water molecules so densely packed that they cannot evaporate.
5. The Diamond Planet
55 Cancri e is made entirely out of crystallized diamond, which would would be priced at 26.9 nonillion dollars (A nonillion is a 1 followed by 30 zeros).The huge diamond planet was once a star in a binary system, until its partner began to cannibalize it. However, the star was not able to pull its carbon core away, and carbon is just a ton of heat and pressure away from being a diamond, so at a surface temperature of 1648 degrees Celsius, the conditions are almost perfect. One third of the mass of the planet is said to be pure diamond, and whereas Earth is covered in water and abundant in oxygen, this planet is made mainly of graphite, diamond, and a few other silicates.
4. The Himiko Cloud
If there has ever been any object that has shown us the origins of a primordial galaxy, this is it. The Himiko Cloud is the most massive object ever found in the early universe, and it dates to only 800 million years after the Big Bang. The Himiko Cloud astounds scientists with its sheer size, roughly half that of our Milky Way Galaxy. Himiko belongs to what is known as the “reionization epoch,” or the period from around 200 million to one billion years after the Big Bang, and it’s the first glimpse scientists have managed to get of the early formation of galaxies
3. The Universe’s Largest Water Reservoir
Twelve billion light years away, the universe’s largest water reservoir resides in the heart of a quasar. Containing 140 trillion times the amount of water in Earth’s oceans, and found near the colossal black hole at the center of the quasar, the water unfortunately manifests itself in the form of a massive cloud of gas, several hundred light years in diameter.
2. The Universe’s Largest Electrical Current
Only a few years ago, scientists stumbled upon an electrical current of cosmic proportions: 10^18 amps, or roughly one trillion lightning bolts. The lightning is thought to originate from an enormous black hole in the center of the galaxy, which has a core that is supposedly a “huge cosmic jet.” Apparently, the black hole’s huge magnetic field allows it to fire up this lightning bolt through gas and dust to a distance of over one hundred and fifty thousand light years away. And we thought that our galaxy was big, this single lightning bolt is one and a half times the size of it.
1. The LQG
This structure, my friends, is the Large Quasar Group. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is only one hundred thousand light years across. Think about that for a moment; if something happens on the far side of the galaxy, it would take a hundred thousand years for the light to reach the opposite end. That means that when we watch an event take place at the other end of our galaxy, it actually occurred when the human species was just beginning to form. Now, take that length of time, and multiply it by forty thousand. The Large Quasar Group is four billion light years across. The cluster of seventy-four quasars actually breaks the rules of standard astrophysics, since the maximum size of any cosmic structure should be only 1.2 billion light years across. Scientists have absolutely no idea how this huge structure formed, since they had previously only been aware of other clusters of perhaps several hundred million light years across.
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