Largest Objects in the Universe

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The universe contains within countless objects. Some are big as our own Sun or the planet Jupiter, while others are as little as hydrogen and helium particles composing the nebulas; however, the universe is so vast that the biggest objects in the solar system would seem microscopic compared to other objects inhabiting the universe. To give you a sense of size scales. It would require one million Earths to fill the entire area of the Sun, and it would require 9 billion suns to fill the area of the biggest star (VY Canis Majoris).

Planet WASP-17b

On August 11, 2009 the announcement of the discovery of a new planet was made. WASP-17b is an exoplanet situated in the constellation of Scorpius at 1,000 light years from Earth. WASP-17b has a diameter twice as big as that of Jupiter and about half its mass Jupiter. It´s the first planet discovered, presenting a retrograde orbit. WASP-17b was discovered by the South African Astronomical Observatory. The exoplanet was named after the consortium of universities which participated in their discovery.

Biggest star

VY Canis Majoris is the largest star known in the universe. It´s classified as the most luminous red hypergiant star with a temperature of 3,500° K (5840° F). Vy Canis Majoris is found in the constellation of Canis Major. It lies at approximate 5,000 light years from Earth. It is 1,800 the radius of the Sun. it is 3 billion km (1.4 billion miles) in diameter.  If VY Canis Majoris were to be placed in the center of the solar system, its surface would stretch beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

Massive black hole

Astronomers discovered the largest black hole to date. It is located in the elliptical galaxy of NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster approximately 336 million light years from Earth. This black hole is 2,500 times as massive as the black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Black holes are dense concentrations of strong gravitational fields with such a strong force that nothing can´t escape, not even light. Its gravitational influence can extend over a distance of 4,000 light years.

The Shapley Supercluster

The Shapley Supercluster is the largest concentration of matter in the local universe. It consists of many clusters of galaxies less than 500 million light years from Earth. The Milky Way forms part of a group of galaxies known as the local group which is approximately 10 million light years in diameter, the local group is part of a group of 1,300 galaxies known as the Virgo Cluster, which forms part of the Shapley Supercluster. The Shapley Supercluster is about 110 million light years across and comprises the mass of 1,000,000,000,000,000 suns.

The Bootes Void

The structure of the universe is dominated by immense empty regions known as voids. The Bootes Void is a huge empty region in space, containing very few galaxies.  The Bootes Void lies at approximately 700 million light years from Earth, and it´s approximately 250 million light years in diameter. It would take 2,500 Milky Way galaxies (100,000 light years) placed in line to cover the same distance.

The Cosmic Web

The Cosmic Web is an infinite scaffolding of clusters and superclusters of galaxies enclosed by dark matter. Clusters of galaxies and dark matter create hubs, and these hubs are interconnected by galaxies, creating a spiderweb-like network. The Cosmic Web comprises the observable universe which covers approximately 93 billion light years. This scale is so huge that collections of clusters of galaxies would resemble tiny grains in a barn.

The scales in the universe are so huge that our imagination is not capable of giving us a clear idea of the time scale and distances that separate one object from another. The size scales in the universe are so immense that the distances from one object to another in comparison with sizes and distances in the Solar system are unimaginable. An observer standing at the furthest reaches of the universe and looking into the Milky Way Galaxy would not even notice the biggest object in the solar system, our Sun.

More about this author: Jose Juan Gutierrez

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