We think of space as being very empty. It’s not. In fact, it’s a junkpile of debris out there. There’s rocks and minerals and our own satellites and crap floating around out there. Comets and lumps of ice and minerals, bouncing the hell around in a void. The ISS (International Space Station) needs constant repair and maintenance in part because of all the space detritus it runs into on a regular basis.
With all the stuff drifting, rolling, rocking, swimming, or oozing through space, a lot of it hits Earth, or comes in contact with astronauts, cosmonauts, and other explorers from home. These people then bring it on home, or tell tales of the oddities that have come out of the heavens. Here’s 11 shocking things from outer space.
A Lot of Booze
Sagittarius B2 is the name. Out there, in the galaxy, there is a cloud of gas and dust which also contains pure alcohol. It is said to smell of rum and taste of raspberries. Bad news if you live there, as no one gets to work on time. But it’s a cloud of gas that is comprised of a substance known as ethyl formate. The unique molecular structure of this substance is responsible for giving raspberries their distinctive bittersweet flavor. It also, when melded with the proper soupçon, smells of rum.
The cloud is very near the center of the galaxy. So no hope of getting there in time for Mardi Gras.
The force that moves through, into, and around all things with laws of its own is gravity. It’s the weakest yet most inexorable force we’ve ever seen. It baffles and boggles from Isaac Newton’s ‘Eureka!’ moment up until this very moment. It’s around us, and we barely know how to measure it. It moves the ocean into tides, yet we only know it as a pain in the ass when we drop the glass peanut butter jar on our motherloving foot! C’mon.
Mini Black Holes
Oh yeah. Size of a quarter, doggone, and it’s ‘Kapooyah,’ time and again. These miniature black holes, or ‘micro black holes‘ are about 10-20 billion years old. They have about as much matter as a mountain, yet are only the size of an atomic particle. Making them immensely powerful, but extremely, extremely tiny. They are thought to have been part of the Big Bang, with some matter decompressing more slowly than other matter.
A Giant Slingshot
The CID-42 system is what’s on the table here. It’s a monster. A supermassive black hole collided with another black hole, and there was a huge eruption of radiation that sent out shockwaves. All this gravity and power being thrown around is now reverberating back into the supermassive black hole. That hole is going to then be whipped out into space at millions of miles per hour. It’s literal Armageddon many times over, right now, in a galaxy far, far away.
These are a kind of neutron star that have immense magnetic fields surrounding them. They’re huge stars that are also magnets, disrupting everything around them. Unable to sustain this kind of energy for long, these collapse after heating up to more than 18 million degrees Fahrenheit.
Antimatter is the opposite of regular matter. You create it and destroy it all the time. It’s merely the opposite of this universe. When antimatter arrives in our universe, it is instantly annihilated. We can even cause these annihilation events. That’s what a PET scan does, in part. Uses the movements of matter and antimatter’s quick dance of creation and destruction to understand more about how your body functions.
The toughest nut of the bunch to crack, Dark Matter boils down to being necessary for everything to exist, but scientifically, it’s easier to point to what it’s not. It has mass that allows galaxies to move without tearing themselves apart. We suggest doing a deep dive before you try to put your head around dark matter. Including why they tried to put a romance between Two and Three so early in the series. That was terrible. Little TV joke for three of you.
Everything in space is moving. Everything is going somewhere. It was going fast, but getting slower. Now, it’s gaining speed. It’s going…somewhere quicker. The thing that makes this movement of everything is called dark energy. Which is also what ladies called me in college. Because I paid them to.
A Really Huge Star
This bad boy is more than 1,800 times the size of our own Sol. Named VY Canis Majoris (The Big Dog), it’s a red hypergiant star that can’t be seen with the naked eye from Earth. With a little assistance, it’s a bright, luminescent spot. As is the case with all hypergiants, it’s extremely bright. It produces immense amounts of energy, meaning the total life span is only a few million years. In astronomical time, relatively short.
Our Sun, being far smaller, is capable of sustaining itself for 10 billion years or so. Unfortunately, Earth only has about 1 billion years left before the oceans boil. God likes a lot of shiny jewels in the sky. Which might explain human fascination with useless gem stones and shiny metals. Like stars we can put in our pockets. Completely worthless, according to Ayn Rand, who had no – count it, 0 – fashion sense. Be real here.
We tend to think that space goes on forever. That might be the case, but we only experience a tiny fraction of it, visible from our tiny little corner of the universe. There’s actually way more to it than we can possibly imagine. We are aware of this great and powerful force, because it’s sucking things into it. We know that there’s stuff that is disappearing beyond the edge of space. Going where, we know not. Becoming what, we know not. We only know that there’s an endless, immense, sucking vortex at the edge of everything, and it’s hungry.