Have you ever contemplated just how small we really are? Well, the mesmerizing video below maps the known galaxies in our small slice of the universe, and shows just how small our home galaxy The Milky Way actually is.
The Hubble Space Telescope estimates suggest there are a stunning 176 billion galaxies in our universe, and billions of planets in the Milky Way alone. We can only observe a fraction of those; the rest is guesses and estimates.
For example, galaxies often occur in clusters, and the Local Cluster in which our own galaxy is located is relatively small, compared with the Southern Wall and Great Wall clusters that line the edges of the galactic sample in the video.
Our own corner of the universe is not even the busiest — the “Local Group” contains only 54 galaxies, while the nearby Virgo Cluster has over 1300.
There are also vast regions of empty space between these clusters — voids. The nearby Local Void is thought to be 150 million light years across. The larger Bootes Void is nearly 250 Million light years across.
Galaxies, like rappers, have entourages of smaller galaxies that surround them. Our own Milky Way galaxy has an entourage, as does the nearby Andromeda galaxy.
Here are some of the more interesting bits, if you don’t have time to watch the whole video, which is embedded at the end of the post:
First, at around 2:00, you see how many galaxies there are just in our immediate neighbourhood. The blue dot below represents the Milky Way (you can barely see it, but it is in the centre of those blue crosshairs).
Most of the galaxies near the Milky Way appear to exist on the same axis, and the grouping is referred to as the Local Sheet (3:25).Our own corner of the universe appears more significant than it actually is, because there is so much of the surrounding universe we simply cannot see. This may seem obvious, but this section of the video (around 7:30) shows just how small the Local Supercluster is compared with the Great Wall and Southern Wall featured at the furthest edges of the sample.
The region known as the Great Attractor exerts an unusually strong gravitational pull over the bodies surrounding it (~14:00). The gravitational pull depicted here goes from black/dark purple in the low-gravity voids to deep red in the Great Attractor. The lines on the screen show the flow of galactic bodies from low- to high-gravity areas.
Here is the whole video:
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