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Exploring Space Brings Us Untold Beauty, Increasing Knowledge, And A Scare Or Two.

Split image shows the Necklace Nebula on the left and an astronaut in a vacuum chamber on the right.

“Space, the final frontier…” If these words from “Star Trek” make your adventurous spirit perk up, you understand the fascination. In the 1960s, we watched this popular TV series and were amazed by the intelligence and strangeness of the fictional aliens. We tuned in each week to see what was next. Although the sets and costumes were rudimentary, we didn’t care. We were fascinated.

Our fascination with space didn’t begin or end with the “Star Trek” franchise. The race to explore this new frontier occupied our minds during the same period. On July 20, 1969, when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong got into their spacesuits and walked on the surface of the moon, we all watched. As a nation, we were smitten! Since those initial forays, our endeavors have continued mapping the galaxies. Discoveries are made daily, and the images and videos returning to our screens are absolutely incredible. Join us as we explore the findings and chronicle some of the coolest things in space.

1. Space Junk Is A Thing

We’re starting here because the more time we spend exploring, the more space junk is accumulating. While distracting, it may also be seen as an interesting side note resulting from our inability to create disintegrating orbital vehicles. What will happen when the outer reaches become so cluttered that navigation becomes difficult?

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

2. Rogue Planets Are Sad And Lonely

A rogue planet is just drifting aimlessly in space with no central star. These planets have no place to call “home” and are always alone. It means they could probably not support life of any kind. With no warmth from another star, the only way for life to form would be under a thick ice blanket (for insulation) and a very warm inner core. There would be no sunrise, no sunset, and complete darkness. At least 70 documented rogue planets are within the Milky Way, and possibly billions are scattered elsewhere! Although scientists aren’t sure how planets become orphaned, they speculate that the lone planets have been catapulted out of orbit somehow.

3. Double Quasars Exhibit Twice The Amazingness!

Current scientific theories suggest that quasars might be young galaxies. They can be very bright, and our study of them is still in the infancy stage. Additional theories include the possibility that quasars might be active black holes in space. The name quasar comes from “quasi-stellar radio source,” and scientists believe they may be the nucleus of forming galaxies. Double quasars are formed when two galaxies merge or collide. This extremely rare phenomenon is an incredible sight. The light from the double quasar pictured below took 8.7 billion light years to reach Earth!

Space image of a double quasar that is 8.7 billion light years from Earth.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

4. The “Necklace Nebula” Makes Regular Jewelry Obsolete.

Although you won’t be able to wear it around your neck, the sheer beauty of the Necklace Nebula makes it one of the coolest sights in space! Each shimmering “jewel” sends color radiating outward, creating a surreal halo in the otherwise dark sky.

Image from Flickr.

5. A Whole Planet Made Of Diamonds? Whoa!

Not to be outdone by the Necklace Nebula, the Diamond Planet (55 Cancri e) is roughly twice the size of Earth. This planet is only 40 light-years from us and appears in the constellation of Cancer. Although the surface of the planet appears to be carbon-rich, the interior is made of diamonds!

6. If The World Is Too Noisy For You, Head To Outer Space!

With no atmosphere, space is a vacuum (not the kind you clean carpets with). Sound waves, which are mechanical, need an atmosphere to be heard. The absence of an atmosphere means no sound. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Absolute quiet. If you scream in the vast emptiness, no one will hear it. Radio waves are electromechanical, so our astronauts can use radios to communicate, even within the vacuum. NASA uses a vacuum chamber to train astronauts so they understand what a vacuum feels like before leaving Earth.

7. Black Holes Are One Of The Scariest Things In Space!

The first black hole was discovered in 1964. Since then, our knowledge of this anomaly has increased. We know that the gravity of a black hole is so strong that, once caught within its grasp, nothing can escape. Knowing that a black hole sits at the center of the Milky Way galaxy should give us all a slight chill down the spine!

As humans continue with space exploration, we will learn more and more. With the Hubble Telescope, Webb Telescope, and other satellites, we find new and cool information almost daily. There is even a NASA team that is searching for new worlds! With the vastness of the internet, we can explore the reaches of outer space from our dining room tables! We hope you enjoyed our brief foray into some of the cool things we discovered. In the comments, let us know about the cool things you learn about space.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here and here.

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