Let’s start near the house. Even here, you can see that the space is huge—more than you might realize. This is the Earth on the right, and the Moon is the small spot on the left.
Jupiter is much further away and much larger.
The most famous hurricane on Jupiter alone, the Great Red Spot, is larger than Earth.
But the sun dwarfs all the planets. In this image of a small portion of the sun’s surface, each cell of boiling plasma is about the size of Texas.
The planets in our solar system are more fascinating and complex than you might think. Saturn isn’t the only one with rings. See the rings of Uranus below?
Neptune also has a set of rings.
Other planets have aurora borealis too, just like the aurora borealis and the australian aurora here on earth.
In this infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope, you can see faint rings circling Jupiter and the aurora borealis glowing at its poles.
Some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s moons show clear signs of underground oceans, where scientists believe alien life could lurk. On Enceladus, plumes of water are seen shooting up through cracks in the surface ice.
These are the only worlds we know about. According to NASA, every star has, on average, at least one planet. You can see one orbiting the star in this image. The planet is a small blob to the right, within a disk of material surrounding the star.
Moreover, new stars are being born all the time in nurseries where thick clouds of gas and dust collapse into stars. The famous Pillars of Creation is one such nursery.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope recently imaged the plumes in strong infrared for the first time, revealing new stars hidden behind the dust.
New stars also form when galaxies collide, slowly moving past each other and squeezing the gas and dust that fills interstellar space. Space telescopes have captured many collisions like this, including the three merged galaxies below.
Stars regularly explode and die as well, giving rise to a powerful and bright supernova.
The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured three phases of a supernova at once. The massive object was bending space-time and reflecting three different images of the explosion, at three different points in time.
Supernovae often collapse into black holes. You may have seen the first ever photograph of a black hole…
…but have you seen the black hole at the center of our galaxy? Scientists believe that every galaxy has a black hole at its core.
Sometimes black holes also merge, creating supermassive monsters.
There are a mind-boggling number of galaxies — as many as 200 billion, astronomers estimate. Each is full of its own stars and planets.
This long-exposure image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captures thousands of galaxies. If you held a grain of sand at arm’s length, that would represent the speck of the universe you see in this image.
Webb has peered further into the universe than any previous telescope. This goes way back in time, as light takes billions of years to travel from these galaxies.
In July, Webb spotted the oldest and most distant galaxy ever discovered. Scientists believe that it appeared 235 million years after the Big Bang. This means that it is closer to the beginning of the universe than we have seen it before.
Astronomers only know of two visitors from other star systems: a possible rock called ‘Oumuamua, and a comet that passed the Sun from interstellar space, in 2017 and 2019.
Only two human spacecraft have left our solar system: NASA’s Voyager probes. The first probe took this famous image of Earth on its way out.
Yes, Earth, there. Carl Sagan called this point the “pale blue dot,” writing: “This is here. This is home. This is us.” Most of us will experience the rest of the universe only through images.