The Bendy Blog

Our Galactic Community

By Jessica McNeil

Bendy Blog category: Magical Garden Archive

by Christian Huber

On your way to school you glance at the Sun. This gets you thinking about something you learned in your science class: you and everyone else on the planet are whirling around the Sun at a whopping 65,000 miles per hour!

Talk about getting nowhere fast! And Earth sure knows how to keep its distance: 93 million miles!

93 million miles is far, but the distance from your classroom window to the nearest star (besides ours, of course) is 20 trillion miles, or 4.22 light years. (A light year is the distance light can travel in a year). And that’s but a short distance when it comes to the size of our Milky Way: 100,000 light years across!

But did you know that our Milky Way is but part of a massive community of galaxies?

Scientists only recently discovered just how large our neck of the woods really is.

The Milky Way is just one galaxy located within a system of galaxies known as a “supercluster.” Scientists have named our supercluster Laniakea, which, in Hawaiian, means “immeasurable heaven.”

So just how big is our home supercluster of galaxies? It is actually measureable, and it’s the probably one of the biggest numbers you’ve ever heard.

From end to end, it’s five hundred million light-years across! So our Milky Way galaxy is just a tiny suburb of this vast “city” of galaxies – there are 100,000 of them! Think of Laniakea as a tree house that sits on a crowded branch within a sprawling Tree of the Universe overflowing with tree houses!

Ah, finally. It’s after school. You’ve done your homework. You have some free time. You walk outside or stand by the window. Time for Yoga! You start with Reach For The Sun. You plant your feet in Mountain Pose. Arms at your sides. Then you reach high with your right hand, as high as you can…

Except now you’re not just reaching for our Sun.

You are reaching for this… our home supercluster of galaxies known as Laniakea.

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