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10 Crazy Facts About Space

Crazy Space Facts

When we talk about space, it feels like we are talking about something really far away that we have no idea about. But stand in an open area and lookup. Space is right there. It puts a lot of things in perspective. Full of marvels, mysteries, and magic, the Milky Way alone has over 200 billion stars. Around 500 solar systems have been found by the scientists and astronomers. and all of this is only a minuscule part of the vast universe. Apart from the jaw-dropping facts about space, there some really crazy facts that are hard to believe. We already know that the Milky Way tastes like raspberries and smells like rum. Here is a list of some crazy facts about space that are mind-blowing!

1. The International Space Station is only 408 kilometers away from the Earth. That is nearly half the distance between Washington and Boston. And space is only an hour’s, vertical drive away.

Outer space
Image credits: NASA, NASA/Crew of Expedition 22 via spaceflight.nasa.gov

A habitable artificial satellite that had its first component launched into orbit in 1998, the International Space Station is in space but not very far from the Earth. If we could drive vertically, it would only be a drive of 408 kilometers. For a comparison, the distance between Washington and Boston is 704 kilometers. The ISS which is in a low-Earth orbit is expected to operate at least until through 2019.

How far do you think space really is? To understand where space is starts and Earth stops, let’s define it. NASA defined “space” as starting at a point where the atmospheric pressure dropped below one pound per square foot. Any astronaut who crosses this point will get their astronaut wings. Later on, this point came to be known as “The Karman Line” by the World Air Sports Federation. This point is roughly 81 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. So. if you drive vertically at a speed of 81 kilometers an hour, you could get to space in just one hour! (1, 2)

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2. There are “outcasts” in stars too. There are stars in the space that do not belong to any galaxy and are “intergalactic.”

Virgo cluster of galaxies
This is Virgo cluster of galaxies. The phenomenon of intergalactic stars was discovered here. Image credit: Wikimedia

To us, the stars may appear to spread out randomly in the night sky, but that is not the case. Most stars are parts of huge clusters, and there are long expanses in space that appear to be completely empty. As time passed, some stars that have been a part of a galaxy are no longer so. Such stars are called “stellar outcasts” or “intergalactic stars” which means that they are between galaxies.

The Hubble Telescope discovered around 600 such stars in the Virgo Cluster alone. Astronomers determine whether or not a star is a part of a galaxy by studying their motion. The “stellar outcasts” are governed by the gravitational field of the cluster it is a part of as a whole and not by the pull of a galaxy. Stars are pulled away because of mergers of galaxies, and billions of such stars may yet be undiscovered. Can this happen to the Sun? We wonder. (source)

3. Radio emissions from the planets have been recorded by the satellites and converted to sound waves that can be played. While Jupiter sounds like the waves of an ocean, Saturn sounds really eerie.

The more we delve into the facts about space, the crazier it gets. The solar wind, the planet’s ionosphere, and magnetosphere are comprised of charged, electromagnetic particles. An interaction between these particles produces radio emissions which can be recorded by some spacecraft with highly developed instruments. For example, NASA’s Voyager, INJUN 1, ISEE 1, and HAWKEYE are some of the spacecraft that recorded these emissions from the planets and moons in Earth’s vicinity.

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These radio emissions are then converted into sound waves which can be played back. So far, we have been able to record the radio emissions of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter’s moon Io, Uranus’ moon Miranda, Saturn’s rings and Uranus’ rings. What is interesting is that each of these produces unique sounds. These spooky and eerie sounds were on some people’s Halloween playlist. Saturn’s sound is the eeriest out of all. (source)

4. Since the Big Bang that created Earth, light from several parts of the universe has not reached us yet making a large part of the universe “unobservable.” We really don’t know what’s out there.

Observable universe
Image 1; Conceptualization of observable universe, Our solar system in the center. Image credit: Pablo Carlos Budassi. Image 2; It is a simulated view of the entire observable universe. Image credit: Andrew Z. Colvin/Wikimedia

We have been told that when we look at space, we are looking at the past because what we see is based on how long it has taken the light to travel from its origin to the Earth. Going by the same concept, we have not been able to observe the edge of the universe yet because light has not traveled as far as that. It has nothing to do with the limits of the technology available on Earth but about the physical limit defined by light. The radius of this “observable universe” from Earth is calculated to be about 46.5 billion light-years. And the age of the Universe is 13.799±0.021 (109) billion years.

It can be assumed that in the future, other galaxies will become observable, but Hubble’s law states otherwise. It states that the regions at a sufficient distance from Earth are expanding at a faster speed than the speed of light and this rate of expansion is accelerating due to dark energy (a name given to an energy that is responsible for the expansion of space). This creates a “future visibility limit” which means that we may never be able to see some parts of space in the infinite future beyond that limit. Thanks to dark energy, we might remain in the dark about a large part of what is out there.  😉 (source)

5. There is a skull-shaped asteroid that came really close to the Earth on Halloween in 2015. It passed again in 2018, coming the closest on November 11th, the centenary of the end of World War I.

Image credits: Tomruen via Wikipedia, NAIC-Arecibo/NSF via jpl.nasa.gov

On November 11, 2018, a skull-shaped asteroid came the closest to Earth in that year. It was all over the news about how this skull-shaped asteroid was going to come close to Earth once again on Halloween and how spooky that was, but astronomers said that it was not the case, and it was going to pass by well after Halloween 2018. But November 11 was another event, the centenary of the end of World War I that took the lives of many.

The asteroid that is named “TB145” passed really close to Earth in 2015. It missed us by only 300,000 miles. People with telescopes could observe it and determine that it really looked like a skull. But in 2018, the closest it got to Earth was 25 million miles making it impossible to determine its shape. Estimated to be 2,000 feet in diameter, NASA said that it is a “dead comet” that once expelled large quantities of debris in the solar system. The skull-shaped asteroid will not be seen anywhere near Earth until 2082. Let’s see what event it marks then! (source)

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