Not long ago I read an article about the discovery of the most distant galaxy in our universe. The galaxy, known as z8-GND-5296, was detected by the Hubble Space Telescope and an observatory in Hawaii. Continue reading . . .
Not long ago I read an article about the discovery of the most distant galaxy in our universe. The galaxy, known as z8-GND-5296, was detected by the Hubble Space Telescope and an observatory in Hawaii. As the article explains, “when scientists look at distant galaxies, they see them as they appeared in the past because of the time it takes for a galaxy’s light to travel to Earth. The newly discovered galaxy was seen by the researchers as it appeared 13 billion years ago” (Ralph K. M. Haurwitz, The Oklahoman, 10-24-13).
Taking into account the continuous expansion of the universe, researchers estimate that the galaxy is now about 30 billion light years away. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, or nearly 6 trillion miles. So, to determine how far away the galaxy is today, simply multiply 30 billion by 6 trillion! My math leads to the conclusion that this galaxy is currently some 180 sextillion miles from Earth (that’s 180 followed by 21 zeros)!
As amazing and mind-boggling as it is, I’ve always been bothered by something like this. Whenever I think of the immeasurable expanse of the universe, it makes me feel so very, very, very (ok, very with hundreds of zeros behind it!) small. To say that the Earth is a sub-microscopic pinprick in this vast universe is to exaggerate wildly. We are actually much smaller than that.
But then I got to thinking. We wouldn’t be any bigger in any ultimate sense of the term or a greater part of the universe if we were 10,000 (or 10 sextillion) times larger than we are. If the universe is infi