Space is big. Space is vast. Space is infinite.
There's not much we, as relatively tiny beings on a relatively tiny planet revolving around a relatively tiny star in an enormous universe, can do to fully comprehend our relationship to the celestial bodies out there. As famous astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, the Earth contains "everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was," and yet it's "a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena."
Thanks to the incredible technology of telescopes, we've been able to reach out far into the unknown and begin to give shape to just how small our existence is compared to the entire cosmos. Most of it is seemingly endless empty space, every so often punctuated by hauntingly beautiful stars, galaxies and more.
Here are 15 images that capture the epic vastness of space and make us truly understand how small we are:
1. Here's how big the Earth is compared to the other planets in our solar system.
2. This is what North America would look like on Jupiter.
3. And here's our planet relative to the sun.
4. But the sun isn't even close to the biggest of stars.
5. And galaxies obviously dwarf any single star. Here's where ours is in the Milky Way.
6. All the stars you can see on the clearest night are inside this yellow circle.
7. The fun doesn't stop there. Not even close. The Milky Way is tiny compared to the biggest known galaxy.
8. Going deeper, here's a Hubble shot of thousands of galaxies.
9. And here we go: the observable universe in its entirety. That dot is where the galaxy cluster our local galaxy cluster which houses the Milky Way lives. Yeah.
10. Now let's look at some cool stuff a little more zoomed in. Here are the clouds of the Carina Nebula.
11. These are the remains of a supernova that happened 20,000 years ago.
12. This nebula 7,500 lightyears away, which arguably looks fake, is where dozens of news stars are being born.
13. This purple area highlights the distribution of dark matter in a galaxy cluster.
14. This is exactly what it looks like. A massive black hole, which is at the center of one of the smallest galaxies ever discovered.
15. This bright spot will eventually become a huge galaxy. It's giving off light as bright as a million stars.
The best part is how we're all a part of it.
Cover image: NASA via Flickr