Putting the Size of the Observable Universe in Perspective

The age of the universe is about 13.75 billion years. The diameter of the observable universe is estimated at about 28 billion parsecs (93 billion light-years). As a reminder, a light-year is a unit of length equal to just under 10 trillion kilometres (or about 6 trillion miles).

The Observable Universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that we can, in principle, observe from Earth in the present day—because light (or other signals) from those objects has had time to reach the Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion.

The word observable used in this sense does not depend on whether modern technology actually permits detection of radiation from an object in this region (or indeed on whether there is any radiation to detect). It simply indicates that it is possible in principle for light or other signals from the object to reach an observer on Earth. [Source: Wikipedia]

The numbers are pretty hard to comprehend even when you know what each unit represents. To even think of how long 10 trillion kilometers might be, let alone 93 billion times that distance, can cause your brain to hurt. Andrew Z. Colvin has attempted to put some of this incomprehensible size into perspective by starting with our own planet and zooming out from there.

For those interested, the eight images below can be found on Wikipedia in a much higher resolution here:


1. Earth


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


2. Solar System


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


3. Solar Interstellar Neighborhood


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


4. Milky Way Galaxy


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


5. Local Galactic Group


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


6. Virgo Superclusters


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


7. Local Superclusters


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


8. The Observable Universe


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin


9. Pale Blue Dot


Created by Andrew Z. Colvin





About Nlyten

I have always been a tech enthusiast, to the point where i have become an addict. Tech to me is crack; Always trying to get my fix every chance i get ! I have always loved sharing anything that fascinates me which again 90% of the time is about tech related content. I used to share content on Google Reader Shared pages (http://www.google.com/reader/shared/surdie) but after their not so brilliant idea to shut it down i felt i needed a new platform where i could share and distribute content and thats how Nlyten.com came about. So keep reading and get Nlyten ed !

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