The Universe is a mysterious place, and we have just started out exploring it. However, people on Earth already know a lot of mind-blowing facts about outer space. Therefore, we grouped 20 space facts that can impress people around you.
Table Of Contents
- The Moon is darker than you think
- The Solar System does not contain a super-Earth
- Some celestial bodies “dance” with one another
- Some events and objects are too powerful and too vital at the same time
- Asteroids hit Earth every day
- Mercury is tectonically active
- There is an exoplanet where glass flies everywhere
- The asteroid belt is not compact
- One of Saturn’s moons has two opposite tones
- The largest exoplanet is about 7 times wider than Jupiter
- The Solar System is larger than you think
- Only 5% of the Universe interacts with light
- Venus and Uranus rotate strangely
- We’re on a collision course with another galaxy
- The Great Red Spot is shrinking
- Water is not uncommon in outer space
- The Solar System is in a delicate balance
- We move at an unbelievable velocity
- A day on Venus is longer than its year
- There is an exoplanet hotter than the Sun
Which of the space facts fascinates you the most? Let us know in the comments. Moreover, here’s a description of each of those facts.
1. The Moon is Darker than You Think
The brightest object in our night sky is the Moon, but it’s very dark. In fact, according to NASA, its bond albedo is just 0.11, meaning that it only reflects 11% of all light shining on it.
The only reason why the Moon is exceptionally bright is that it’s close. Icy worlds such as Europa is much brighter from the same distance.
2. The Solar System Doesn’t Contain A Super-Earth
According to data from NASA, about 30.8% of all confirmed exoplanets are super-Earths. Why doesn’t the Solar System have one? It’s due to the formation!
Jupiter’s “grand tack” shaped the Solar System we know today. When Jupiter went to the inner Solar System, it absorbed a lot of planet-forming materials, causing inner planets to be smaller. In reality, the fact that Mars is smaller than Earth and Venus maybe because of this event, and the Grand Tack Hypothesis has solved many problems for the Solar System’s formation.
3. Some Celestial Bodies “Dance” with One Another
There is a phenomenon known as “orbital resonance” where the planets or satellites “dance” together. However, what they actually do is periodically exert gravitational forces with each other or one another. That way, the ratio between their orbital periods can be presented by small numbers.
For example, when Io orbits Jupiter 4 times, the more outer one — Europa orbits Jupiter 2 times. Meanwhile, Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, orbits Jupiter once.
Orbital resonances are also very common for exoplanets. For instance, a planetary system hosted by HD 158259 has 5 planets. When the planet orbits the star 3 times, the planet immediately behind it orbits the star 2 times. It doesn’t seem very straightforward, but it’s easy to understand if you look carefully.
4. Some Events and Objects Are too Powerful And too Vital at the Same Time
Some objects and events in the Universe are potent. One of them is a supernova, which can kill anything within 50 light-years of the epicenter. Gamma-ray bursts are even more powerful: They can destroy things from thousands of light-years away.
They seem deadly, right? However, they are also vital to our existence. Supernovas can use their sheer energy to fuse atomic nuclei even if they’re heavier than iron. All sorts of jewelery and even essential elements such as gold, silver, molybdenum, iodine, etc., all come from these events. Remember that one reason for gamma-ray bursts is hypernovas, which produces even more of these crucial substances.
5. Asteroids Hit Earth Every Day
Asteroids are scary objects, but we assume that they hit us rarely. But it isn’t the case. In reality, about 100 tons of space rocks arrive on our planet every day.
Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that. It’s because the atmosphere (more specifically, the mesosphere) burns up small asteroids that go into that place. Only space rocks that are wider than 25 meters can make their way to the surface.
6. Mercury is Tectonically Active
We always know that Earth is tectonically active due to earthquakes and tectonic plates. But do you know Mercury does, too?
A 2016 research from images from the MESSENGER spacecraft shows that Mercury is still shrinking despite already being about 4.5 billion years old. They found young scarps, which are cliff-like terrain. That is evidence to prove Mercury is still cooling down from its formation.
7. There is an Exoplanet Where Glass Flies Everywhere
Talking about space facts, we can’t miss exoplanets because they have many unsolved mysteries. One of the most extreme planets are HD 189733 b. How unusual is that planet?
It is very windy, and its wind speed is higher than that of Neptune’s. What’s more, it rains glass. That means the pieces of glass are literally flying around supersonically.
Even though the planet is blue and looks like a pleasant world at first glance, living on the planet is devastating when you look just a little bit deeper.
8. The Asteroid Belt Is Not Compact
Many sci-fi movies involve navigating through the asteroid belt and barely getting out of trouble. However, it doesn’t happen in reality. According to NASA, there are roughly 1.1 to 1.9 million asteroids larger than a kilometer.
However, there are definitely more notable asteroids than that. Still, the asteroid belt stretches for astronomical units, so you do not have to concern about your spacecraft crashing due to the collision with an asteroid. Many probes have passed through this “barrier” and did not get any injury!
9. One of Saturn’s Moons Has Two Opposite Tones
Iapetus, one of Saturn’s moons, has a puzzling phenomenon: One side is black, and the other is white. The two opposite tones seems completely unrelated, but there is a simple answer to that.
According to NASA, the dark particles of the more distant moon of Saturn — Phoebe, might have somehow flown out into outer space. A lot of them landed on Iapetus, making it dark. However, the same article also explained there may be some volcanic activities and chemical reactions contributing to that.
10. The Largest Exoplanet Is About 7 Times Wider Than Jupiter
We’re talking about exoplanets again, and this time it’s even crazier. Have you wondered how large is the largest exoplanet ever discovered? According to NASA, its diameter is 6.9 Jupiters! That’s more than half the Sun’s diameter and substantially larger than red dwarfs.
That may seem a bit too unreasonable, so what’s the exoplanet’s actual (logical) size? Let us know in the comments.
11. The Solar System Is Larger Than You Think
We all know the Solar System contains 8 planets. Plenty of people know about the Kuiper Belt and the heliosphere, too. However, our Solar System doesn’t end there.
There is a theoretical cloud of comets called the Oort Cloud. Scientists think it exists because the extremely long orbits of comets. According to NASA, the boundary of the Oort Cloud can extend as far as 100,000 astronomical units, or 1.6 light-years.
However, we don’t have any direct observations to Oort Cloud objects yet as it’s too far and the objects are very tiny.
12. Only 5% of the Universe Interacts with Light
We thought light is ubiquitous around the Universe and that everything interacts with it. However, only 5% of all matter in the Universe either refracts, reflects, scatters, or absorbs any forms of light. Therefore, let’s find out where did the remaining 95% go.
A staggering 68% of things in the Universe is dark energy, which is the force that is outrunning gravity and accelerating the expansion of the Universe. The other 27% of matter is dark matter, while only 5% is normal matter that interacts with light. That means we cannot explore 95% of the Universe with the current technology.
13. Venus and Uranus Rotate Strangely
Let’s get more local and look at the planets’ rotations. From here, you can observe a weird pattern: Venus and Uranus are very peculiar. Venus spins backward very gradually, while Uranus rotates on its side.
The only sensible reason of the dramatic change is a planetary collision. That means the planets may almost be destroyed by the incoming objects. While the object that collided with Venus somehow orbits the star backward, the object that struck Uranus has a very elliptical orbit to achieve that particular angle.
14. We’re on a Collision Course With Another Galaxy
That list of space facts goes intergalactic again — this time with a galactic collision. In fact, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is rushing toward us at around 110 kilometers per second!
Is that fast? Don’t worry! According to space.com, our galactic structure will not be affected by this event in 4.5 billion years! In that time, the Sun will start to become a red giant and to swallow Earth. However, if we can see the night sky at that time, we will look at an enormous galaxy occupying the sky.
15. The Great Red Spot is Shrinking
Anyone who knows about Jupiter knows the famous Great Red Spot, a storm that has been existing over the centuries. However, something is happening strange about the storm.
When it’s found, it can fit at least three Earths. However, it can’t fit even two Earths now, meaning that it is shrinking. Many people will worry the grand thing will disappear very soon, but that may not be the case.
A 2018 study shows that the Great Red Spot is getting taller as it shrinks. Although its overall surface area may still be getting smaller, the increase in height can significantly slow down the contracting process.
16. Water Is Not Uncommon In Outer Space
Talking about whether a planet can host life or not, we often consider having water. But how rare is it? It may not be uncommon.
According to NASA, it’s likely that ocean worlds are common in our galaxy. There is an excellent reason for that: The elements that make up water, hydrogen, and oxygen, are two of the most abundant elements in the Universe. That way, the atoms may collide, and water will be formed.
17. The Solar System Is In A Delicate Balance
The orbits of the planets of the Solar System are separated clearly, and there are no imminent collision threats.
However, the balance is fragile. If Mercury’s orbit goes wrong, it will permanently demolish the harmony of the planetary system.
What’s more, in a simulation, a modification in Mercury’s orbit resulted in a change in Mars’s orbit. This butterfly effect ultimately messes up with the orbits of all inner planets. It can possibly put the planets on a collision course.
18. We Move At An Unbelievable Velocity
We think we’re static and not moving when we stand still, but it is very unreal. In fact, we move at a staggering speed without noticing that.
Firstly, Earth rotates at approximately 1,668 kilometers per hour. That means if we’re static compared to Earth’s core, we’ll be breaking the sound barrier! Secondly, we’re orbiting the Sun at about 29.783 kilometers per second.
What’s more, the Sun is also going around the galactic center at approximately 201 kilometers per second. Remember, the whole galaxy is also rushing toward the Andromeda Galaxy at around 110 kilometers per second, and they are probably moving much faster as groups.
Therefore, if you’re told that we’re not moving, it’s completely false, and just tell them that we’re moving at hundreds of kilometers per second.
19. A Day on Venus Is Longer Than Its Year
On the 13th fact of this article, we’ve discussed the unusual rotation of Venus and Uranus. In this section, we’ll elaborate more because the rotation rate is at a very gradual pace.
An even more astounding fact is that it takes 243 days to rotate once around its axis, and the planet takes just 225 days to orbit the Sun. That indicates the year on Venus is shorter than its day.
20. There Is An Exoplanet Hotter Than the Sun
One of the most impressive of the space facts is that there’s an exoplanet hotter than the Sun.
It’s called KOI-55b, and it orbits very close to a B-type star. In reality, when the host star is a red giant, the former gas giant is swallowed but came out with its bare core after the star shrunk. The planet is now evaporating because its surface temperature is about 6,800 Celsius! It’s hotter than the Sun’s surface!
How close is the planet from its host star? Imagine that it only takes 0.2 Earth days for an entire year on this planet! You’ll sing happy birthday every 4 hours!
In this article, we discussed 20 fascinating space facts that will impress people around you. Remember the items to be better in astronomy.
If we missed out on important points worth talking about, let us know in the comments.
References and Credits
- (2020, January 13). Moon Fact Sheet – the NSSDCA – Nasa. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/moonfact.html
- (n.d.). Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond our Solar System. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/
- Jeremy Hsu. (2014, May 29). Why Does Earth Have No Super-Earth Cousins? – Astrobiology Magazine. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/why-does-earth-have-no-super-earth-cousins/
- (2017, May 22). NASA’s Kepler Confirms Details of TRAPPIST-1’s Least Understood Planet – NASA. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/astronomers-confirm-orbital-details-of-trappist1-least-understood-planet
- (2020, May 18). The Dance of Jupiter’s Moons | www.caltech.edu. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/dance-jupiters-moons
- (2020, April 28). Discovery Alert: The Rhythmic Dance of a 5-planet System – Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond our Solar System. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1639/discovery-alert-the-rhythmic-dance-of-a-5-planet-system/
- (2014, March 31). Asteroid Fast Facts | NASA. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/overview/fastfacts.html
- (2019, June 28). Mesosphere | NASA Space Place – NASA Science for Kids. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/mesosphere/
- Bill Keeter. (2016, September 26). The Incredible Shrinking Mercury is Active After All | NASA. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-incredible-shrinking-mercury-is-active-after-all
- (2019, December 19). In Depth | Our Solar System – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/our-solar-system/in-depth/
- (n.d.). HD 189733 b – NASA Exoplanets. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/exoplanet-catalog/6876/hd-189733-b/
- (n.d.). In Depth | Asteroids – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/asteroids/in-depth/
- (2019, December 19). In Depth | Iapetus – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/iapetus/in-depth/
- (n.d.). HD 100546 b – NASA Exoplanets. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/exoplanet-catalog/6713/hd-100546-b/
- (2019, June 6). Oort Cloud – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/oort-cloud/overview/
- (n.d.). Dark Energy, Dark Matter – NASA Science Mission Directorate. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy
- (2020, October 15). Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are already merging | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/earths-night-sky-milky-way-andromeda-merge
- (2019, February 8). We Finally Know When Our Milky Way Will Crash Into the Andromeda Galaxy – Space.com. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.space.com/43267-milky-way-andromeda-collision-later.html
- Ridddle. (2020, May 13). What If All the Planets Collided? – YouTube. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSZaE2IZCDE
- (n.d.). By the Numbers | Earth – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/earth/by-the-numbers/
- (2019, December 19). In Depth | Sun – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/sun/in-depth/
Image Credits: Canva, NASA’s Eyes