Beyond the Universe

A famous astrophysicist once speculated that there might be as many atoms that make up a single molecule of our DNA as the number of stars in a galaxy—we might just be universes within universes. The number of atoms within our DNA had perhaps been determined already but on the systems that make up our galaxy, the number just keeps growing.

Solar System: A Brief Description

A solar system, specifically, our solar system, is an orchestra where the Sun is the conductor (who is given cosmic authority because of its gravity), and the certain celestial bodies that serve as the performers: this includes the eight planets along with their 210 known satellites (moons). Also included are innumerable asteroids (with some having as many as 150 moons that orbit them), comets of different sizes, and accumulations of interstellar dust and gas. With the current investments in space technology, we might perhaps discover more.

In one of the four spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy lies the planet we call home. The only one at the time proven to be able to sustain life.

Aside from the planets, there are certain celestial bodies that aren’t given enough credit. One of them is the Kuiper Belt, which is situated beyond Neptune. It is a spherical ring made up of dense, icy structures. Another is the Oort Cloud, a diffuse sphere that wraps our solar system. It is made up of cosmic remnants and debris that can reach the size of a mountain, and sometimes, even huge than that.

How Many Solar Systems in Our Galaxy?

Our solar system is quite unique. Its lack of an atmosphere is compensated by the numerous worlds within it, including our beloved Earth, which we credit our life to. It is worth noting that these smaller worlds, in the backdrop of the vast cosmic blanket, are known to have different atmospheres of their own, some of which have extreme conditions that do not permit life.

However, these facts might just be disproved in the near future. Recent knowledge tells us that astronomers have come close to uncovering more than 3,200 other distant stars surrounded by planets.

Are There Systems Like Ours?

In the deeper recesses of the galaxy, we have recently discovered that there are more planets than stars. In their attempt to look beyond, astronomers have discovered planetary systems bound to other stars. We might just be headed to proving that the thousands and billions of vast stars in our galaxy have planets stuck in their orbit. On a greater scale, the Milky Way might just be one of the trillions of galaxies in existence. As we continue to progress with our current knowledge of space, perhaps we might discover that we are not alone in this universe.

How Will We Know?

To come into terms with the universe, we must attempt to peer more closely. With investments, both from governments and private institutions, we are a step closer in understanding the cosmic order.

In 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched from the Earth to collect data from the distant celestial bodies. In 2012, Voyager 1 left the orbits of the distant planet and is now floating in between the stars. Voyager 2 followed after six years. However, NASA can still communicate with both spacecraft.

NASA’s recent spacecraft, New Horizons, is currently stuck in the gravity of the Kuiper Belt. It’s hard to say when it can detach from there.

Two more spacecraft deserve more credit: Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. Being NASA’s first mission beyond the planets, the former cemented the ingenuity of human curiosity. These spacecrafts were prerequisite to the modern successes of modern space exploration.