Space, the final frontier. There is still very little that we actually understand about the vast universe that we live in. (Check out our list on 25 Puzzling Mysteries From Outer Space That Will Leave You Baffled if you’re curious to see some of what scientists are still trying to figure out.) However, what we do know is that space is very clearly trying its best to kill us all. From deadly radiation to exploding super-stars, the galaxy is dangerous enough to make even the bravest (or craziest) astronauts think twice before deciding to exit our nice, protective atmosphere. Still, the human race is determined to go out and explore the cosmos, so just to make sure we know exactly what we’re getting into, here are 25 Space Facts That Will Both Terrify And Amaze You.
Imagine an astronaut traveling through space at speeds near that of light. Now imagine a person standing on Earth. According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the astronaut will experience time much slower than the stationary person although neither will perceive any difference in the time passing around them. When the astronaut finally returns home, even if it has been many years on earth since since he left, he will have only aged a fraction of that time. This is known as time dilation, and although we have yet to develop technology that allows us to move humans at speeds fast enough to notice its effects, we have seen instances of it while studying high-speed particles in a laboratory.
Thought to be the result of a close encounter with a black hole, hypervelocity stars are stars that have been ejected from their systems and sent rocketing through intergalactic space at speeds up to 2 million miles per hour. Although most of the hypervelocity stars we have identified so far are of similar size and mass as the Sun, they can theoretically be of any size and reach even more incredible speeds.
Despite the occasional sunburn, our Sun has provided us with warmth and light for billions of years. However, don’t let our local star fool you. Our Sun is a vast miasma of incandescent plasma that can shoot out massive bursts of solar radiation at random. Although they are unlikely to directly danger any of the life on Earth, these solar flares can create electromagnetic pulses that wipe out power grids, interfere with radio communications, and render technology invalid.
There is no air in space, obviously; however, that implies more danger than just having to hold your breath for a long time. The human body is adapted to the atmospheric pressure on Earth, which is why when you go up in an airplane or travel over mountain roads you might experience a popping in your ears. In the vacuum of space, there is no air pressure. Within moments of stepping outside your spaceship, all of the water in your body would boil and evaporate, expanding rapidly until you popped like an overfilled balloon.
The Big Crunch/Big Rip
Everything must come to an end, but will there be an end to everything? Scientists agree that there will most likely be a determinate end to the universe, but how it will happen is still uncertain. One prevailing theory states that there will be a big crunch, in which the gravitational forces in the universe will reach their limit and cause the entire universe to cease expanding and fold back in on itself, eventually converging into a single, infinitely tiny point before disappearing into nothingness. Another theory, known as the big rip, states that the universe will expand to the point that gravity loses all meaning and the cosmos literally falls apart; even the particles in atoms eventually floating away from each other. We honestly can’t decide which is more terrifying.