This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. The corona (feature represented in purplish colors) gathers inward (left), becoming brighter, before shooting away from the black hole (middle and right). Astronomers don’t know why the coronas shift, but they have learned that this process leads to a brightening of X-ray light that can be observed by telescopes
Our Universe is massive. There are planets that dwarf Earth, pulsars that stretch millions of light years into infinity, black holes 50 billion times the size of our Sun, and hundreds of objects of unfathomable size.
Today, we wanted to recap the 10 biggest known object in the universe – counting down from number 10. In this list we have a collection of some of the largest objects in the cosmos including, nebulae, pulsars, galaxies, planets, stars, and more.
Without further adieu, here is a list of the ten biggest things in the universe.
#10 – Planet TRES4
This is an extrasolar planet found in the constellation Hercules. Nearly 70% the size of Jupiter, our solar system’s largest planet, TRES4 is the largest-known exoplanet. And it is TRES massive. In fact, it is the 4th largest planet ever discovered. This puffy planet has a low density similar to balsa wood, or cork. Theoretically, TRES4 shouldn’t really exist seeing as it’s too large relative to its mass, making it a little hard to explain. Its host star is about the same age as our very own sun but because of its size, it’s evolving much faster. Having exhausted all of its hydrogen fuel in its core, it has become a “subgiant”. And because of its enormity, it’s on its way to becoming a “red giant”. Which is huge.
One of the largest known stars in our very own Milky Way galaxy, VY Canis Majoris, aka VY CMa is found in – surprise! – the constellation Canis Majoris. This is an uber-rare hypergiant star in our galaxy, as most stars in the Milky Way are smaller than the sun. Not this star – its radius is 1500 times larger, and its mass anywhere between 10-25 times greater than the sun. And that’s after it has already ejected about half of its mass, surrounding the star in a nebula of cloud. And yet, it’s still burning bright – and hot with temperatures soaring upwards of 3200C or 5800F – for now. It’s near the end of its lifespan and may explode in the next 100,000 years. Afterwards, its remaining core could create a black hole. A big black hole, though not as big as….
#9 – VY Canis Majoris
A red hypergiant star located in the constellation Canis Major.
The largest black holes in the universe are believed to reach up to 50 billion solar masses. The biggest of the big is a supermassive black hole, or SMBH, which can be found at the center of almost all large galaxies. The largest SMBH ever found is up to 21 billion times the mass of the sun. Black holes tended to be found in dense clusters of galaxies, but scientists are currently rethinking that thesis. One of the biggest was found in a smaller environment. When twin galaxies combine, their black holes merge, forming ever growing black holes. Gravity within black holes is strong enough to warp time and space…
#8 – The Largest Black Hole
The largest black holes in the universe are believed to reach up to 50 billion solar masses.
IC1101 is the largest known galaxy. Situated at the Abell 2029 glaxy cluster, it is known as a the “Supergiant Ellipticals”. Some of its nearly 1 trillion stars can be seven billion years older than the sun. Discovered in 1790, it was catalogued in 1895 as a nebulous feature. In 1932 Edwin Hubble discovered that some of these nebulous features were actually galaxies in their own right. This Super Galaxy is so enormous it could contain the Milky Way, both Magellanic clouds, the Andromeda galaxy, the Triangulum galaxy and nearly all the space in between. However, IC1101 isn’t birthing many new stars. So unless it collides and combines with other galaxies, this behemoth could simply fade away…
#7 – Super Galaxy IC1101
The largest known galaxy in the universe. An elliptical galaxy at the center of the Abell 2029 galaxy cluster
Radio signals coming from “lobes” on the sides of active galaxies are “Radio Lobes”. As huge as galaxies may be, the radio lobes are usually much bigger than the galaxy from which they originate. Some can be over twice the size of the Milky Way. Each double-lobed radio galaxy is unique, derived from the interaction between a jet of high energy gas and its surroundings. As the jets stream out of the centre of the galaxy at nearly the speed of light they emit strong radio waves. Imagine the wake of a motor boat. Now imagine it beyond enormous. Radio lobes.
#6 – Radio Lobes
A type of active galaxy that emits spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole.
No ordinary space blobs, these Lyman Alpha Blobs (LAB) truly are the Alpha of blobs. Some of the largest known individual objects in the entire universe are essentially planetary nebula that can reach more than 400,000 light years across. In other words, these are some crazy big blobs. These blobs may hold valuable clues to help us discover just how galaxies are formed. Located over 11 billion light years away, LABs are luminous and rare structures that provide evidence of polarization. Some are large enough to enfold the Milky Way several times over. That’s a lot of hydrogen gas!
#5 – Lyman Alpha Blobs
Some of the largest known individual objects in the Universe. They are essentially planetary nebula that can reach more than 400,000 light years across.
The Bootes Void, sometimes called the Great Void is a creepy region of space that contains very few galaxies. It’s around 700 million light years away, near the constellation Bootes – hence the name. Its diameter is over 0.25% of the diameter of the visible universe, so it’s not just a regular void, but a supervoid. Studies of the Bootes Void suggest that it could be older than the universe itself, coming into existence before the Big Bang occurred. The Bootes Void is one of those things that give scientists more questions than answers. A puzzling, spooky, massive bit of nothing that keep astronomers on their toes.
#4 – The Boötes Void
Nearly 250 million light-years in diameter, the Boötes void is one of the largest known voids in the universe.
The Shapley Supercluster, aka the Shapley Concentration, or SCI 124, is the largest concentration of galaxies in our nearby universe. The supercluster forms a gravitationally interacting unit. In other words, it pulls itself together rather than expanding with the universe. Containing over 8000 galaxies and with a mass more than 10 million billion times the mass of the sun, it’s the most enormous structure within a billion light years from the Milky Way galaxy. That a lot of ‘illions.
#3 – Shapley Super Cluster
The Shapley Supercluster or Shapley Concentration is the largest concentration of galaxies in our nearby universe.
The Huge-LGQ, or Large Quasar Group is a collection of Quasars that forms what is believed to be the largest astronomical structure group in the universe. The known universe, that is. A quasar is a gigantic and uber-remote celestial object that emits very, very large amounts of energy. When viewed through a telescope, they look starlike. Scientists think that quasars are powered by black holes millions of times bigger than our little sun. The Huge-LGQ is a collection of 73 quasars that measures around 4 billion light years across. There are some issues about its structure but one thing’s for certain – it’s so gigantic they had to use the word “huge” in the name.
#2 – The Huge-LGQ
The Huge Large Quasar Group is a structure of 73 quasars, referred to as a large quasar group, that measures about 4 billion light-years across.
Drumroll please… The Cosmic Web is a web of gas that stretches between galaxies and makes up the entire known observable universe. The organization and distribution of galaxies is not random. Galaxies are set up like a massive network. And that network is The Cosmic Web. Galaxy clusters, filamants, even regions devoid of any galaxies – they’re all found within the Cosmic Web. All this and the entire universe – you really can’t get any bigger than that.
#1 – The Cosmic Web
The entire fabric of our cosmos.
Our home Planet, Earth, is the fifth largest planet in all of our solar system – and the only one in which we are certain that life exists.
To us, the planet is massive, but in perspective of the entire universe it’s nothing but a spec of dust. Less than one grain of sand, in 100,000 billion. Exemplifying this notion, are 7 awesome facts from NASA that should make you feel tiny.
Our sun is just one of 100 billion stars, in the Milky Way