How does anything defy someone’s imagination and wins? It’s not like there is a cap on what the human mind is capable of imagining, right? Well, the space discoveries that you area about witness pushed the limits of what we thought or even imagined was possible. In fact, some of the space discoveries on this article were actually found by accident, which means our puny little minds had no concept of there existence. For example, the Galilean Moons, a Diamond planet (seriously, an entire planet made out diamonds), and even a trail of gas dividing two galaxies that is 2.6-million-light-year-long! With all the significant technological advancement related to the exploration of space, scientists and astronomers have been coming across new cosmic objects and phenomena that keep baffling our minds. So it looks like this battle between space and our imagination will continue (and we are excited to say that it looks like we will be losing the battle). So be sure to check out these 25 Major Space Discoveries That Defied Our Imagination And Won for some of the craziest space discoveries ever. And if you want even more space marvels, check out these 25 bizarre things you can only find in outer space.
Giant water reservoir
While astronomers had suspected there might have been large amounts of water in outer space, in 2011, they were shocked to discover an enormous water vapor cloud located about 10 billion light years from Earth. Floating around a black hole, the cloud is estimated to hold up to 140 trillion times the mass of water found in all Earth´s oceans.
Milky Way´s super hot cover
NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory has recently found out that our galaxy sits at the center of an immense halo of hot gas extending for hundreds of thousands of light years. Burning at a temperature of 1–2.5 million Kelvin, the gas halo is estimated to contain as much mass as all the stars in the Milky Way combined.
Hot ice world
In May 2007, a team of Belgian astronomers announced the discovery of a bizarre planet covered in hot but solid water. Officially known as Gliese 436 b, it is a Neptune-sized exoplanet orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 436. Although the planet´s temperature reaches 439 C (712 K), its watery surface doesn’t evaporate. Instead, it forms a kind of hot, high-pressured ice.
Dubbed “The Hell Planet”-due to its high content of burning lava-the Kepler-78 b exoplanet was discovered in 2013. The mystery of this planet relates to its origin as astronomers have no idea how such a small planet, only 20 percent larger than Earth, could have evolved so close to its parent star Kepler-78.
Enormous stream of hydrogen
An international team of astronomers in Puerto Rico discovered a 2.6-million-light-year-long bridge of atomic hydrogen gas between galaxies in the NGC 7448 galaxy group, some 500 million light years away. What made this discovery so unique was – apart from the stream´s gigantic size – the fact that gas streams are usually found inside galaxies, not between them.
When Galileo Galilei, a famous Italian Renaissance astronomer, turned his newly constructed spyglass to the sky in 1610, he had no idea he would discover the four largest moons of Jupiter (now known as the Galilean moons). In fact, no scientist up to that day had predicted that the other planets would also have their own moons.
Also known as Canes Venatici Supervoid, the Giant Void is an extremely huge region of “space emptiness” within the constellation Canes Venatici. The discovery of this void surprised astronomers as their theories were only able to deal with much smaller empty areas in space. Measuring up to 1.3 billion light years across, the Giant Void is the largest void ever detected.
The seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus was discovered by accident. William Herschel, a German-born British astronomer discovered Uranus in March 1781 while surveying bright stars and nearby faint stars with his new telescope.
Named Ceres, the first asteroid was found by an Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi at Palermo, Sicily, in January 1801, while Piazzi was compiling a catalog of star positions. Located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, Ceres was originally considered a planet for many years. These days, it is classified as a dwarf planet.
Lights on Ceres
Talking about Ceres, there was another unexpected discovery related to this cosmic object. Recently, NASA astronomers noticed two bright lights on Ceres. Reflecting about 40% of the light hitting them, they are thought to be ice areas or salt patches. Some scientists also suggest the lights might have a geologic or volcanic origin.
In May 2015, astronomers discovered the first quadruple quasar ever. Consisting of four rare active black holes situated in an unusually close proximity to one another, the quartet is surrounded by a giant nebula of cool gas. According to astronomers, the discovery is either a one-in-ten-million coincidence, or it will make us rethink current models of quasar evolution.
Giant gas cloud
A few years ago, astronomers were surprised by an unexpected discovery of a mysterious large space blob. Now known as Himiko, the blob has been identified as a giant gas cloud. With a length of about 55,000 light years and a mass equivalent to that of about 40 billion Sun, Himiko is one of the largest and most distant objects ever found in space.
Asteroid with rings
In 2014, for the first time ever, astronomers discovered a ring system surrounding an asteroid. Found around an asteroid named Chariklo, the rings are a complete surprise to planetary scientists, who are not exactly sure how such rings could have formed. One of their theories suggests they might have formed when another smaller object slammed into Chariklo´s surface, kicking up a huge amount of debris that settled into rings held in place by gravity.
Radio galaxy J1420-0545
Radio galaxies are types of active, short-lived galaxies that are very luminous at radio wavelengths. The largest of the radio galaxies ever discovered is named J1420-0545 and it stretches across a staggering 15 million light years of space.
Gigantic alcohol cloud
While studying an area called W3(OH) -a region in our galaxy where stars are being formed by the gravitational collapse of gas and dust- astronomers based at Jodrell Bank Observatory discovered a giant bridge of methyl alcohol. This bridge spans about 288 billion miles and wraps around a stellar nursery.
Flare on Mira
Super-sharp observations with the telescope ALMA recently revealed what seems to be a large flare on the surface of Mira, a red giant star estimated to be 200–400 light years away in the constellation Cetus.
Cosmic microwave background
Defined as thermal radiation left over from the time of recombination in Big Bang cosmology, the CMB was accidentally discovered in 1964 by American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson who were working on a radiometer for satellite communication experiments. The unexpected discovery even earned the astronomers a Nobel Prize.
In 2012, astronomers were astonished to find a planet partly made from diamond. Formally known as “55 Cancri e”, the planet has a mass of about 7.8 Earths and is thought to contain a large amount of carbon much of which may be in the form of diamonds. As the planet is located “just” 40 light years away from Earth, it is visible even to the naked eye.
Gamma ray bursts
Characterized as flashes of gamma rays associated with extremely energetic explosions from distant galaxies, the gamma ray bursts were first detected in 1967 by a series of satellites designed to detect covert nuclear weapons tests. Soon after the discovery, hundreds of theoretical models were proposed to explain these bursts, nevertheless it wasn’t until 1997 when this phenomenon was better understood thanks to the usage of optical spectroscopy.
Located in a binary star system 3,000 light-years from Earth, the freezing planet was discovered by a technique called gravitational microlensing. The uniqueness of the discovery lies in the fact that binary systems were originally thought not to contain planets. Formally known as WISE 0855−0714, the discovery of the freezing planet now suggests even a binary system can be a planet hunting ground.
Star inside another star
In 2014, astronomers discovered a fascinating new space object-a hybrid star some 200,000 light years away. Named Thorne-Żytkow object, it consists of a neutron star that was swallowed by a much larger red supergiant. Although the existence of such objects was predicted as early as in 1975, the exact process by which hybrid stars are created remains unknown.
While astronomers have been familiar with magnetars-dense collapsed neutron stars possessing enormously powerful magnetic fields-the 2013 discovery of a magnetar dubbed SGR 1745-2900 boggled their minds. Apart from its unusually close proximity to a super massive black hole, the magnetar was hotter than expected and the amount of X-rays emitted by the star was dropping slower than in other known magnetars.
Astronomers were shocked to find evidences of what appears to be energetic particles produced by a giant black hole located in the middle of the Milky Way. In 2014, NASA satellites revealed that our solar system might be full of mysterious energetic particles known as neutrinos. While we know Earth is permanently bombarded by similar particles coming from the Sun, neutrinos from beyond the solar system haven’t been known so far.
Great red spot on Jupiter
Discovered in the early 17th century, the great red spot on Jupiter has been baffling astronomers for centuries. These days, we know it is a large persistent anticyclonic storm up to three times bigger than our planet. Yet, even modern astronomers cannot exactly explain why it has lasted so long and what causes its reddish color.
Coldest white dwarf ever
In June 2014, astronomers identified what might be one of the strangest objects in our galaxy – an incredibly cold, ancient and faint white dwarf that has crystallized into a diamond the size of Earth. White dwarfs are not uncommon in space but they are usually so dim we hardly ever notice them. What makes the discovery even more unique is the fact that this star is estimated to be as old as the entire Milky Way (11 billion years).