Five amazing wonders of the universe

Five fascinating answers to some mind-boggling questions.

Every star with a planet

Some scientists now think almost every star has a planetary system.

If space is infinite, is there 100% chance of finding alien life?

There are several equations, such as the Drake equation, which predict that the probability of finding life elsewhere is 100%. If we consider that life on Earth took just several hundred million years to evolve, and the universe has existed for at least 14 billion years, then it is likely that other planets have had a much longer time to support life than us. With every star now thought to host at least one planet there are billions of potential planets out there and it’s highly unlikely that not one of these grew life like Earth has done.

What is the largest star we’ve found?

The biggest star we’ve found in the universe is a red supergiant called VY Canis Majoris. Located in the constellation Canis Major 4,900 light years from Earth, it is up to 2,100 times bigger than our Sun. Massive red supergiants like this are commonly called hypergiants.

Will long-haul space travel ever become a reality?

Missions to planets beyond Mars and outside of the Solar System are currently only a thing of science fiction. Mankind does not possess the necessary propulsion or spacecraft technology for a long-haul space mission. However, NASA has set up a committee to study the plausibility of a 100-year starship, which would take a colony of hundreds of humans to another star in the 22nd Century.

Will stars collide if two galaxies collide?

It’s actually quite unlikely. Galaxies contain a lot of empty space so, even when they collide, although objects may be pulled around by gravity it’s rare for stars to collide. In fact, if we’re around when our Milky Way and the nearby Andromeda galaxy eventually collide in several billion years, it’s unlikely we’ll notice a thing on Earth.

Where does the material that goes in a black hole end up?

Most of the matter that enters a black hole ends up in a singularity, which is an infinitely dense point no bigger than the full stop at the end of this sentence. However, some black holes reach a theoretical mass limit and, when they do, they fire out excess matter in jets of radiation, known as Hawking Radiation.

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