How Big Is the Milky Way (Human Comprehendible Format)

How Big Is the Milky Way Really?

This is about how big the milky way is. In plain numbers, the milky way is 52,850 light-years big. However, if you want to understand the milky way’s size and distances in a human comprehendible format, then you’re in the right place. Let’s do this! Milky Way’s Size in a Human Comprehendible Format Indeed, our universe is truly gigantic.  But, even small parts of our universe are still absolutely vast.  In fact, even our home galaxy proves truly mind-boggling when it comes to distance.  So, just how vast is our native galaxy?  We break it down with Milky Way distances on scales that even we tiny humans can understand. Let’s get started! What is a Light-Year? As we explore the amazing Milky Way distances in this article, it’s helpful to understand the speed of light.  Simply put, light is the fastest thing in our universe, our cosmic speed limit. So, how fast is that? Without anything in its way, light travels at a staggering 186,000 miles per second.  Yes, per second.  In other words, light can travel all the way around planet Earth seven times in a single second. Compared to Our Solar System Previously, we explained our solar system distances in human-friendly terms.  But, our solar system is a mere blip or pixel of our entire galaxy, the Milky Way.  In fact, over 500 solar systems have been discovered in our Milky Way.  Not to mention, our Milky Way is simply one of at least 100 billion galaxies in our observable universe.  But what does that mean for our galaxy’s size? Simply put, our solar system is a speck compared to the Milky Way.  Our Milky Way galaxy is a whopping 587 trillion light-years across.  In other words, you could travel across our entire solar system 53,000 times and still not equal one trip across the Milky Way. Even NASA’s New Horizons, known for its ground-breaking 2015 Pluto flyby, currently holds the spacecraft speed record at 36,000 miles per hour.  Still, New Horizons would take 1.9 million years to journey across the Milky Way galaxy.  Put another way, that is the time since the Bible was written, multiplied by 930. Compared to Earth Next, how does our life-bearing home planet, Earth, compare to the Milky Way.  After all, Earth is just one of at least 100 billion planets thought to exist in our galaxy.  Plus, Earth’s size is, at best, very average and quite unimpressive. Still, at over 7,900 miles wide, Earth is huge to humans.  But, you would have to line up nearly 75 billion Earths to stretch across the Milky Way galaxy.  Plus, at 24,000 miles around, it would take more than 24 billion trips around planet Earth to equal one cross-Milky-Way trip. Even the United States of America, at 2,600 miles across, feels truly large to us.  Still, 220 billion trips across the USA would not quite equal one journey across our Milky Way.  Mount Everest, standing tall at 29,000 feet high, is planet Earth’s highest mountain.  But, it takes almost 107 trillion Everest climbs to equal one Milky Way voyage. Compared to Human Beings Last but not least, we seven billion people are the only life, as we know it, in our entire universe.  No other planet is known to contain animals, spacecraft, technology, insects, or anything else.  So, how big is the Milky Way compared to humans? We all know bullets travel fast. In fact, they are capable of around 1,700 miles per hour.  However, even these lightning speeds are a mere 0.0001 percent of light speed. Therefore, a bullet would take nearly 40,000 years to travel across our Milky Way. Also, sound, another phenomenon synonymous with quick speeds (761 miles per hour).  Therefore, a sound wave would take nearly 88 million years to journey across our galaxy.  In other words, that’s more than 32 billion days, or, 771 billion hours. Currently, The Koenigsegg Agera R holds the record for the fastest automobile at 273 miles per hour.  But, the Agera R, constantly traveling at top speeds, would take almost 90 billion days to cross our galaxy. Now, at 105 miles per hour, man’s fastest baseball pitch would take over 230 billion days to float across the Milky Way. Strike!  Even the fastest known animal, the cheetah, bolting at an impressive 61 miles per hour would take a billion years to span our home galaxy. In other words, that’s 400 billion hours or 9.6 trillion hours. Finally, those truly ambitious aspiring astronauts could choose to walk across the Milky Way.  However, be forewarned that your journey would last for nearly 190 quadrillion hours. Indeed, that is “190,” followed by 12 zeros.  Simply put, a Milky Way walk would take more than 41,000 times planet Earth’s entire life (4.6 billion years).  Otherwise, your trip would require over 2.6 trillion human lifespans.

Solar System Distances in Simple Terms.

Solar System Distances in Simple Terms

This is about the distances in our Solar System. In a station wagon, you’d have to drive to Venus for 17, 000 days. So if you want to learn all about the distances in our solar system in simple terms, then you’re in the right place. Let’s jump right in! Distances in Our Solar System Equipped with truly magnificent technology, mankind has discovered, explored, and even physically touched some breathtaking sights among our vast cosmos.  In fact, with widely accessible images from Hubble and several successful missions, it sometimes feels as though we’ve “been there, done that.”  However, we’ve barely experienced our own solar system, let alone our Milky Way galaxy or beyond.  Let’s start right at home with our Solar System distances: Basic Information Firstly, let’s establish some very basic information, like our speed and units of measurement.  If we define these things and keep them consistent, it will be much easier to understand distances. Our Speed Assume that we are traveling in a spacecraft capable of 36,000 mph speeds.  Actually, this really was the record-breaking speed set by New Horizons as it left Earth in 2006.  Granted, many factors can affect speeds in space. Gravity, planets, stars, they all speed us up, or slow us down.  But, forget this and assume we are traveling along at a constant 36,000 mph. Our Measurements Next, we will take on some truly huge numbers in this article.  However, don’t worry. Zero math is involved. But, we still need something to help our human brains understand these vast distances.  We will use the astronomical unit. Astronomical Unit (AU) One astronomical unit, or AU, is the average distance between Earth and the Sun.  In other words, 93 million miles.  Using AUs will make it easier to understand distances between planets and other solar system locations.  Ok, let’s dig in! Inner Planets Make no mistake. Our solar system is home. But, home itself is truly gigantic.  Our journey begins with our solar system’s inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and our home, Earth. Simply to arrive at our closest neighbor, Venus, would take almost a full month at 36,000 mph.  Mercury and Mars, both around two months. “But, two months isn’t that long,” you say! Indeed, two months is not even a full season here on planet Earth.  However, imagine visiting an out-of-state relative or a national park.  Sitting in the back seat of mom and dad’s station wagon for two months, or over 60 days, would be rather unbelievable, no? Just for fun, briefly imagine driving only highway speeds now (65 mph).  Now, your trip to Venus would require over 550 months or almost 17 thousand days.  Mars would be over a thousand months, 31 thousand days. And, these are just our solar system’s “inner” planets. Looking up from our backyard to see Venus or Mars using only our naked eye makes them feel close, like neighbors.  We find safety and comfort in the feeling of being in a home. However, once we begin comparing even these “nearby” distances to our own Earth experiences, a new perspective appears.  Let’s keep moving! Outer Planets Next, we journey to the outer gas giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Suddenly, our trips begin taking serious time. In fact, visiting our biggest planet, Jupiter, would be a 15-month journey. That’s more than 450 days or nearly 11 thousand hours.  Next up, Saturn at 8 AU from home would take over 30 months, or over 900 days. Now, that station wagon backseat is sounding pretty horrific, huh? At last, we approach the frozen outer planets, the ice giants. Uranus would take almost 58 months to reach, nearly 2,000 days, or 47 thousand hours. Last but not least, Neptune is sitting at a distant 30 AU. Now, this trip rings in at over 104 months, just over 3,100 days—nearly 75,000 hours. Finally, let’s visit the former ninth planet, Pluto, at 40 AU from Earth. Sitting in the outskirts of our solar system, Pluto would require nearly 15 years to reach.  In other words, more than 5,300 days, or almost 128-thousand hours. The average human life lasts around 672,000 hours. Therefore, visiting Pluto would require around 20% of a lifetime. Again, for grins, let’s briefly imagine setting out for Pluto at Earth’s highway speeds. Suddenly, a Pluto trip takes over 8 thousand years, or 100 thousand months, 72 million hours.  In other words, if you left for Pluto as the Bible was being written, you’d still have 6,000 years left in your trip. Note: Indeed, New Horizons completed its Pluto trip in just under a decade. However, other factors, like gravity, helped make this possible. Kuiper Belt Wait, our journey is not over yet! Indeed, beyond our planets, a doughnut-shaped region exists called the Kuiper Belt. Containing millions of icy objects, the Kuiper Belt even hosts a dwarf planet, Pluto. But, unlike Pluto, this cosmic ice doughnut is seriously large.  In fact, the Kuiper Belt stars at around 30 AU away from Earth and continues on for another 20 AU. Simply put, the doughnut is 1.8-billion-miles wide. Crossing the Kuiper Belt would require over 2,100 days or nearly 6 years. However, even simply arriving at the Kuiper Belt from Earth would be a 3,200-day journey. Put another way. Two full presidential terms would have passed by the time you arrived at the Kuiper Belt. Oort Cloud As if a frozen space doughnut around our solar system isn’t odd enough, there’s more. Actually, a massive frozen cloud, called the Oort Cloud, also surrounds our solar system. Unlike the flat Kuiper Belt, think of the Oort Cloud as a gigantic bubble or sphere. Now, this is where our solar system distances become extremely large. The Oort Cloud begins at around 5,000 AU from home and continues for another 95,000 AU. Think about that for a moment. In other words, this frozen bubble is almost 9 trillion miles thick. You would have to line up over 3 billion United States to equal its distance. That’s equal to traveling to Pluto and all the way …

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