Start the new year by realizing how insignificant we are

Size comparison of Earth to everything else in the Universe

Here’s Earth compared to Jupiter.

Earth compared to Jupiter and its Great Red Spot. Source: Wikipedia

The largest storm on Jupiter — the Great Red Spot — is the size of the Earth. Jupiter is so large it can easily hold ~1300 Earths inside it.

Now here’s Jupiter and Earth compared to the Sun.

Earth and Jupiter compared to the Sun with a solar prominence visible at the bottom left. Source: Wikipedia

Some solar flares are larger than both Earth and Jupiter. Here’s a close up.

Comparison of the Earth to a highly energetic coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. Source: SDO

Damn, the Sun is monstrous!

However, the Sun is not among the larger stars of the galaxy. Here is a comparison of the Sun with the red giant star Arcturus and the red supergiant Antares.

The Sun (top right) compared to red giant star Arcturus and red supergiant star Antares. Source: Wikipedia

Antares is so large that if the Sun were to be replaced by it, it would engulf Mars. But there are stars in the Universe that are even larger than Antares!

Here’s a comparison of the Sun with one of the largest known stars in the galaxy— VY Canis Majoris.

Red hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris compared to our puny Sun. Source: Wikipedia

The Sun is not even visible at this scale. So much for being special. It doesn’t help that the Sun is just one of the 100 billion+ stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.

The spiral galaxy M66 captured by Hubble, containing ~100 billion stars. Source: Hubble

At the scale of a galaxy, all the stars — no matter how big or small — are mere little dots. Around these hundreds of billions of little dots lie probably just as many star-systems like our own.

Our search for exoplanets in the galaxy has barely begun and yet we have already found more than 3000 star-systems till date. Source: Hubble

And yet, even with so many stars with so many worlds around them, our galaxy is just one of the billions & billions of such galaxies in the observable universe.

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) view showing thousands of young galaxies in a patch of the sky smaller than the angular diameter of the Moon. Sources: 1 — Hubble and 2 — Hubble

Mind=blown? Wait till you see the largest known galaxy compared to our Milky Way.

The largest known galaxy IC 1011 compared to the Milky Way. Source: Reddit

Our galaxy is dwarfed by the colossal size of IC 1011. Such supermassive galaxies (for the lack of a stronger word) usually host supermassive black holes at their centers. Here’s one of the largest known black holes compared to our solar system.

The largest known black hole compared to our solar system. Source: TeamIndus

If all of this doesn’t humble you, terrify you and leave you in awe & wonder, I don’t know what will.

Start the new year by realizing how insignificant we are.

I have written a poem on what is the purpose of the Universe and Life (hint: no purpose).

If you want to know what Life needs to do to survive till the end of the Universe, here an interesting timeline.