The universe we live in is a pretty remarkable place. And yet, we’ve only scratched its surface. From black holes thousands of times the mass of our Sun to galaxies crashing together in violent collisions, we live in an active and exciting universe. In this list, we’ve dug up plenty of the lesser-known facts and phenomena in the universe (strange things about the universe if you will). What unites them all is that they are generally unexpected or surprising. And most you’ve probably never even heard of. For instance, did you know it can take 100,000 Earth years for light to move from the core of the Sun to its surface? Or how about that it would take 74,000 Earth years to reach our next closest star? Or how about the possibility of an extraterrestrial radio transmission in 2012?
Whether you’re a space junkie or just a science fiction fan, there’s plenty on this list of strange things about the universe to capture your interest. From the temperature of the Sun to the origin of comets to the music soundtrack humanity sent out to the stars in case other lifeforms find our space probes, put on your spacesuit and blast into these 25 Strange Things About the Universe.
The Sun boils
With the right telescope, you can see the Sun boiling. Just as warm water rises in a cookpot, cools, and falls down the sides via the process of convection, the Sun transfers energy to its surface via millions of cells called granules which live for at most 20 minutes.
Albert Einstein reported on the existence of gravitational waves back in 1916, a century before their existence was confirmed. The science world was elated by their ultimate discovery in 2015, revealing that space-time could actually ripple just as the still water on a pond ripples when a stone is tossed into it.
Interplanetary Transport Network
Though it sounds like a science fiction writer’s creation, the Interplanetary Transport Network is one of the coolest facts about the universe on our list. Originally named the Interplanetary Superhighway, the ITN is a set of pathways through our Solar System based on the competing gravity of celestial bodies. Satellites and other spacecraft can use it to slowly move between objects while using very little energy.
Most of us were taught in science class that there are three type of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. But there’s a fourth: plasma. Made by heating a gas or applying a strong electromagnetic field to it, plasma is the most plentiful form of matter in the universe. It can be seen in neon signs and in this picture as the Space Shuttle Atlantis re-enters the atmosphere in 2012.
A unique phenomenon that can only be seen from space, airglow is the release of energy by atoms and molecules high up in the atmosphere. Releasing their energy after a day of excitation by the Sun, the molecules can produce visible light, such as the green given off by oxygen molecules.