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.
The Speed of Light
Everybody loves to imagine themselves flying through the galaxy at the speed of light, at roughly 299,792,458 meters per second; however, the reality might be less fun and a lot more fatal. When coming in contact with an object moving at light speed, hydrogen atoms transform into intensely radioactive particles that could easily wipe out the crew of a starship and destroy electronics in seconds. Just a few stray wisps of hydrogen gas floating through the cosmos could have a radioactive output equivalent to a proton beam created by the Large Hadron Collider.
Every year, our moon gets about 4 centimeters farther away from the Earth and, while this might not seem like much at first, it could have devastating effects on our planet in the future. Although the Earth’s gravitational field should be enough to keep the moon from spiraling into space for good, the increasing distance between it and Earth will eventually slow our planet’s rotation down to the point where a single day will take longer than a month and our oceans’ tides are locked in place.
Typically formed out of the death of massive stars, black holes are super dense regions of space with so much gravitational pull that they trap light and warp time. Just a small black hole in our Solar System would throw planets out of orbit and tear our sun into pieces. If that wasn’t scary enough on its own, black holes can hurtle across the galaxy at several million miles per second, leaving trails of destruction in their wake.
The most powerful type of explosion in the universe, gamma ray busts are intense, high-frequency bursts of electromagnetic radiation that carry as much energy in milliseconds as our sun will give off in its entire lifespan. If one of these rays were to hit Earth it could strip the atmosphere of ozone in seconds, and some scientists even attribute a mass extinction 440 million years ago to gamma ray bursts hitting Earth.
Scientifically referred to as microgravity, this condition occurs when an object is in a state of free fall and appears weightless. Although it may look fun to float around like astronauts, prolonged time in zero-gravity conditions can have long-term mental and physical effects on humans.