25 Most Puzzling Mysteries Of The Universe

Posted by , Updated on February 26, 2016

The Universe is full of mysteries and unexplained phenomenons. Its sheer size alone is a mystery in it of itself and lets not even talk about whats contained within it (though we are going to talk about it in this post). After all, what is the universe? According to Wikipedia, it is all of time and space and its contents. It includes planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, the smallest subatomic particles, and all matter and energy. A pretty standard answer and probably a disappointing one to many. If you search a little deeper, however, you will find that science has some mind-blowing answers to this seemingly simple mysteries.

Consider for a moment some of the theories out there: Science claims among other things that the universe could be a an illusion, a computer program, or even a bubble. Of course, the questions that derive from such claims are as many as the stars (if we knew how many start existed): Where did I come from? Where do I go? How much time do I have left? What’s the purpose of being here? All these questions may sound like queries for a philosopher to unravel, but if you are seeking a more scientific response, you might be end up with a huge question mark. These are 25 Most Puzzling Mysteries of The Universe.

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How old is the universe?

Universe's ageSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

At the dawn of the twenty-first century and despite all our technological and scientific progress, the universe’s age remains far from certain. Current estimates place the age of the universe at 13.799±0.021 billion years.


How did galaxies form?

GalaxiesSource: Nasa, Image: Wikipedia

There’s a lot of debate as to how galaxies formed but at the end of the day, no one knows for sure. After the Big Bang, scientists are not sure if small particles slowly teamed up and gradually formed stars, star clusters and eventually galaxies or if the Universe first organize as clumps of matter that later subdivided into galaxies.


What are the Fermi bubbles?

Fermi bubblesSource: sci-news.com, Image: pixabay.com

In 2010, a team of scientists working at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered a pair of “Fermi bubbles” extending tens of thousands of light-years above and below the Milky Way’s disk. These structures are enormous balloons of energetic gamma rays emanating from the center of our galaxy, but there are still a lot of things we don’t know about them.


Have we really discovered a rectangular galaxy?

rectangular galaxySource: universetoday.com, Image: universetoday.com

It’s being called the “emerald-cut galaxy,” and it was recently discovered by an international team of astronomers with the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. The gem-cut galaxy was detected in a wide-field image taken with the Japanese Subaru Telescope by astrophysicist Dr. Lee Spitler. It’s believed that the unusual shape is the result of a collision between two galaxies.


The Universe before the big bang

Big bangSource: space.com, Image: Wikipedia

What, if anything, existed before the big bang? We have been able to single out the genesis of our known existence to the Big Bang but beyond that we are still clueless.


Did life originate on Earth?

PulsarSource: universetoday.com, Image: Wikipedia

We know that Earth was devoid of life when our solar system was first formed. Life form(s) then appeared on our planet, eventually evolving into the species we know today. However, whether the first lifeforms originated on Earth or elsewhere is a huge mystery that has been the subject of serious scientific debate. Scientists have pointed out that its possible for life to have arisen spontaneously when conditions on Earth were different. On the other hand, some scientists believe that complex organic molecules could have originated in space and been brought to Earth via comets or meteoroids.


What is dark matter?

Dark matterSource: nasa.gov, Image: Wikipedia

The truth is we really don’t know exactly what dark matter is. However scientists have been able to pin down some of it’s characteristics. For example, we know that it is dark, meaning that it does not take the form of stars or planets that are seen. Second, it is not in the form of dark clouds of normal matter. Third, dark matter is not antimatter and finally, dark matter is not a galaxy-sized black hole.


How big is the universe?

UniverseSource: astronomy.com, Image: pixabay

Many great debates and even more hypotheses have taken center stage in the search for an answer to this antiquated question, but none has managed to answer it sufficiently. All we know is that the universe is big! Though the observable universe is about 13.8 billion years (give or take 21 million years), the distance to the edge of the observable universe is about 46 billion light years aways. This is because the universe is constantly expanding and getting bigger.


How common are black holes?

Black holeSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

The concept of black holes takes us back to the 1780s, when John Michell and Pierre Simon Laplace envisioned “dark stars” whose gravity was so strong that not even light could escape. However, we still don’t know much about them. In 2014 for example, scientists discovered a galaxy with three super-massive black holes at its core, which could mean that clusters of black holes might be far more common than we originally thought.


And what happens when black holes collide?

Black holeSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

Theory suggest that when two black holes come close enough to where they cannot escape each other’s gravity they will merge and become a bigger black hole. Such an event would be extremely violent and truth be told even when simulating this event on powerful computers, we still can’t fully understand it. A black hole merger would produce tremendous energy and send massive ripples through the space-time fabric of the universe. However, nobody has witnessed black hole collisions as of yet.


What created Saturn’s rings?

Saturn ringsSource: nasa.gov, Image: Wikipedia

The most accepted theory at this time is that Saturn’s rings probably formed when objects like comets, asteroids, or even moons broke up in orbit around the planet due to its strong gravity. The pieces of these objects kept colliding with each other and broke into even smaller pieces.

Do you enjoy astronomical mysteries? Then you might find these 25 Major Space Discoveries interesting.


Where did all the lithium go?

LithiumSource: physicsworld.com, Image: Wikipedia

According to standard cosmology theory, Lithium, together with hydrogen and helium, is one of three elements to have been synthesized in the Big Bang. Therefore, we should see a uniform abundance of Lithium throughout the universe. However, we don’t. By experimental observation, the older stars seem to have less Lithium than they should, and some younger stars have far more. Why? We don’t really know.


How did the moon form?

MoonSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

Where did our quiet, beautiful satellite that makes our nights more friendly and romantic come from? Scientists and philosophers have been wondering about this for centuries. The first modern idea about the formation of the moon was the fission theory (by George Darwin, son of Charles). However, the most widely accepted theory is that the moon was formed when a large object (about the size of Mars) slammed into the Earth billions of years ago. The collision then turned the newly formed Earth into a molten ball of rock and ejected material into orbit.


Why did Mars dry out?

MarsSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

We already know from our landers and orbiters that water once flowed in streams and great floods across the now barren landscape of Mars. What we don’t know and are trying to understand is why the Red Planet became so dry and inhospitable. Theories range from an asteroid impact blowing most of the atmosphere into space in a catastrophic event or solar wind erosion.


What’s the purpose of gamma-ray bursts?

gamma-ray burstsSource: astronomy.com, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

One of the greatest mysteries of observational astronomy during the past three decades has been the nature of gamma-ray bursts. We can recognize and observe them but we still have no idea why they randomly appear and why they happen.


What is dark energy?

dark energySource: astronomy.com, Image: deviantart.com

According to the most accepted theory at this point, dark energy is supposed to act in opposition to gravity and occupy the entire universe, accounting for most of the energy in it (roughly 68%) and causing its expansion to accelerate. Other than this, dark energy is a complete mystery.


Did the Big Bang really happen?

Big Bang Source: space.com, Image: Wikipedia

Our universe, according to Einstein’s theories, is around 13.8 billion years old and formed from an infinitely small point during the Big Bang. While most scientists today seem to accept this model, the scientific community still can’t explain what happened inside this tiny point – called a singularity – or what came before it. In reality, we can only speculate how the Big Bang happened.


Are we alone?

Aliens or extraterrestrialsSource: astronomy.com

This is another great mystery that many thinkers and scientists have tried to solve throughout the history of human civilization, but it has yet to be answered. Can we recognize all kinds of life? What if some different type of life is staring at us but we can’t understand it?


Where did life come from?

mystery of existenceSource: astronomy.com, Image: pixabay.com

It’s without a doubt one of the oldest questions and biggest mysteries in human history. Though there are theories out there that seek to explain the dawn of life; explanations that involve increasingly complex chemical reaction with chemical reactions becoming self sufficient, the truth is scientists don’t have a clear definitive explanation for life.


Do we live in a parallel universe?

multiple universeSource: astronomy.com, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Misha Dontsov

For as long as humans have been able to think and reason, a question has loomed in the back of our head: How do we know that everything we see is everything there is? Modern science is almost certain there could be parallel universes (and thus lives) but to test such a notion is difficult.


What is gravity really?

GravitySource: spaceplace.nasa.gov, Image: Wikipedia

Gravity has played a big part in making the universe the way it is. Gravity is the force that makes pieces of matter clump together into planets, moons, and stars. Because of gravity, if you drop something, it falls down, instead of up. Well, everybody knows that! But, what does this really mean? Even though scientists can observe and understand how gravity “behaves,” they have no clue why it exists. For example, if gravity is a force that causes all matter to be attracted to all other matter, why are atoms mostly empty space inside?  Or why the forces that hold atoms together are different from gravity? Is it possible that all the forces we see at work in nature are really different sides of the same basic force or structure? All these questions make gravity’s nature and existence one of the biggest mysteries.


Is water necessary for life?

waterSource: astronomy.com, Image: Wikipedia

From antiquity to today, all scientists and biologists have been absolutely sure about one thing: water is essential for life. Recent studies, however, have shown that microbes can remain alive in the absence of water nearly indefinitely, and science now wonders if water is essential only for the kind of life we can recognize and understand.


Are there other planets like Earth?

earthSource: astronomy.com, Image: youtube.com

As of yet we have not found a planet exactly like Earth, or even one that is capable of harboring life. However there is evidence that a planet like Earth is not that unrealistic. Last year, NASA discovered the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun very similar to our own (Kepler-186f).


What is the fate of the universe?

UniverseSource: astronomy.com, Image: pixabay.com

A scary question to think about. When will the enigma we call the universe come to its demise? The answer as you might have guessed it is shrouded in uncertainty. Scientists are not even sure if the universe will come to a defined end or a more gradual “tail off”. Suggestions for the universe’s death range from “heat death”–which is the death of all differences in heat in the universe–to a universe that collapses on itself. All theories are scary.


Does an anti-universe exist?

anti-universeSource: astronomy.com, Image: theweek.com

The whole “antimatter” issue started officially in 1928 with physicist Paul Dirac, who developed a theory that combined quantum mechanics and Einstein’s special relativity to provide a fuller description of electron interactions. What we learn from this theory is that matter and antimatter annihilate each other. So if we and everything else are made of matter, why do we still exist? Didn’t matter and antimatter completely annihilate at the time of the Big Bang? Perhaps some antimatter still exists somewhere else? Such questions have led to speculative theories, from a break in the rules that govern the universe to the existence of an entire anti-universe somewhere else.

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