The Sky - Planets, Stars & Galaxies

The Era of the Stars - and Their Offspring - Us

Fiat Lux = Let There Be Light

We now live with our daytimes bathed in energy - sunlight - starlight from our star - the Sun. Stars began to form about 13 billion years ago, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang? Our sun is about 4.5 billion years old - middle age for a star this size. Below it is shown throwing off a CME - Coronal Mass Ejection - that would fry us if the Earth did not have a strong magnetic field and atmosphere.  Lke all stars, one day it will burn out. One day all stars will be burned out and matter too spread out to make any more stars - leading to  a dark and cold universe. 


Click for larger image in another window.:

How did our Sun come to be? Well, there are regions were matter gathers - into clumps, then disks, then compresses until the nuclear furnace in the center ignites - making a star. 

Here is our nearest big neighbor galaxy, M31 - the Andromeda Galaxy - about two million light years away. You can barely see it as a fuzzy spot with the human eye.
         It is similar to our own Milky Way, with hundreds of billions of stars. It is headed this way.

There are maybe a trillion galaxies like Andromeda over our head
- each with hundreds of billions of stars.

andromeda gendler big

Andromeda Galaxy - M31. Click for larger image in a new window.

Near where I am writing this in New Mexico,  some of my friends work at Apache Point Observatory, where the SDSS - Sloan DIgital Sky Survey is making a computerized map of the whole sky. Here is a video showing about 400,000 galaxies of the estimated hundreds of billions of galaxies in the known universe.

Here are about 400,000 galaxies of the trillion we can see. This video is worth your time, because this is not an artist’s impression but real data.  Remember, these are not stars, but galaxies - each containing hundreds of billions of stars like our Sun. So sit back, go full screen and enjoy.

If that’s not enough, Now let’s try to look at the really BIG PICTURE - the whole universe, or at least our known universe as of 2014. Here is an overview far above and beyond stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, even superclusters of galaxies - to webs made of superclusters of galaxies:

Finally, another overview - over all we know:


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