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The mysteries the universe (and the not-so mysterious)

A 4.5 billion-year-old star powers our planet. What other mysteries are in our galaxy?

Spiral galaxy NGC 6984 is seen in this NASA image taken from the Hubble telescope on August 19, 2013. A star exploded an
Spiral galaxy NGC 6984 is seen in this NASA image taken from the Hubble telescope on August 19, 2013. A star exploded and formed supernova SN 2013ek - visible in this image as the prominent, star-like bright object just slightly above and to the right of the galaxy’s center. (NASA)

Inventions like the Hubble Telescope have enabled us to see more of the universe than we ever have before, and astronomers have made great strides in understanding the universe and all of its galaxies. But the universe is so vast, there are still so many things we don’t know.

Here are some facts about the universe and its galaxies:

• The universe is huge. If you could travel at the speed of light, it would still take 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way galaxy. At the speed it takes a modern jet fighter to fly, it would take more than a million years to reach the star closest to the Sun.

• The part of the universe where Earth is located is called the Milky Way galaxy. The universe contains billions of galaxies, each containing planets and millions of starts. In fact, the stars you see in the sky are actually millions and millions of miles away.

• The sun, which gives us light and heat and energy, is actually a 4.5 billion-year-old star. The temperature of the surface can reach more than 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

• The sun is so big, the gravity it gives off acts as an anchor for Earth and other planets in our solar system. Without it, our planet would simply fly off into the universe!

• Scientists believe the universe was created in something called the Big Bang, or the big explosion that kick started the creation of the universe about 13 billion years ago. The Big Bang caused the universe to expand, and it’s still expanding to this day.

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