More than 14 billion years ago, the universe developed from the Planck epoch, a hot and dense phase in its beginning. Since then, the universe has expanded and has created billions of galaxies, stars and planets. The universe will continue to expand until eventually everything breaks apart.
For stargazers, cosmologists, astronomers and physicists, the universe has become an awe-inspiring place full of complex questions, astounding imagery and even the possibility of extraterrestrial life forms.
In our lifetime, we have been able to witness some of the most bizarre, beautiful and largest objects in the universe. These have given us answers to many questions, left us puzzled and provided us a glimpse of what else is out there.
Here are some of the largest objects in our universe.
IC 1101 supergiant galaxy
Approximately 1.07 billion light years away, there is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the Serpens constellation. The cD class galaxy is six million light years across and is 60 times larger than our Milky Way galaxy. Presently, this is the largest galaxy discovered.
On Jan. 1, 1801, Italian Catholic priest and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the largest asteroid called Ceres. It is the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system that maintains a rock-ice body and comprises more than one-third of the mass of the asteroid belt. With a diameter of 600 miles, it is the size of California.
Two black holes
There are two currently vying for the title of Largest Black Hole. Late last year, astronomers discovered two of the largest black holes ever measured. One is located in the galaxy NGC 3842 and the other one is positioned in the NGC 4889 galaxy. The former has a mass of approximately 10 billion suns, while the latter could weigh more than three times that size.
No, it’s not the 1958 Steve McQueen motion picture. In 2006, astronomers came across a gigantic amoeba-like object that is about 200 million light years wide and is primarily made up of galaxies and enormous bubbles of gas (some measuring 400,000 light years across). It is believed these Lyman alpha blobs formed two billion years ago.
Unfortunately, the iconic monolith hasn’t been discovered yet and there are no alien spacecraft within the vicinity of our planet. But so far, the largest manmade object in space is the International Space Station, which is 109 metres (375 feet) across and weighs about 370 tonnes.