Earth from Space | Smithsonian Institution
Space the final frontier (learn more about space and technology)
Geo Maps & Stats
Click To Enlarge The current cosmological consensus is that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago with the Big Bang. But a legendary physicist says he's found the first evidence of an eternal, cyclic cosmos. The Big Bang model holds that everything that now comprises the universe was once concentrated in a single point of near-infinite density. Before this singularity exploded and the universe began, there was absolutely nothing - indeed, it's not clear whether one can even use the term "before" in reference to a pre-Big-Bang cosmos, as time itself may not have existed yet. In the current model, the universe began with the Big Bang, underwent cosmic inflation for a fraction of a second, then settled into the much more gradual expansion that is still going on, and likely will end with the universe as an infinitely expanded, featureless cosmos.
3-Visualizations & mapping
AUSTIN, Texas — The largest cluster of galaxies seen yet in the early universe, a giant that astronomers have dubbed "El Gordo," could one day reveal secrets about the invisible dark matter that fills the universe, researchers said. El Gordo — which means "the fat one" in Spanish — is officially known as ACT-CL J0102-4915 and "is located more than 7 billion light-years from Earth, at a time when the universe was half its current age," study co-author John Patrick Hughes at Rutgers University told SPACE.com. The universe is about 13.7 billion years old. The monster galaxy cluster has mass about 2 quadrillion (that's 2 followed by 15 zeroes) times that of the sun, making it "the most massive known cluster in the distant universe." A galaxy cluster behemoth Galaxy clusters form through mergers of smaller groups of galaxies. Monster Galaxy Cluster 'El Gordo' Packs Mass of 2 Quadrillion Suns
Our Cosmic Neighborhood From our small world we have gazed upon the cosmic ocean for thousands of years. Ancient astronomers observed points of light that appeared to move among the stars. They called these objects "planets," meaning wanderers, and named them after Roman deities—Jupiter, king of the gods; Mars, the god of war; Mercury, messenger of the gods; Venus, the goddes of love and beauty, and Saturn, father of Jupiter and god of agriculture. The stargazers also observed comets with sparkling tails, and meteors or shooting stars apparently falling from the sky.
Credits: Scale of the Universe 2 was created by Cary and Michael Huang. Drag the scrollbar or use your mouse-wheel to zoom in and out of the universe. Prepare to have your mind blown!
Feature Asteroid 2012 DA14 Earth Flyby ...or explore missions and their technology in more detail. Watch Curiosity (MSL) land on Mars, ride with Juno on its way to Jupiter, or learn about the power systems behind Curiosity and other missions. Already taken a tour?
Views of the Solar System
Artist Ron Miller takes us on a journey to eight of the most breathtaking views that await explorers of our solar system. The scale of these natural wonders dwarfs anything Earth has to offer. What might we see and feel if we could travel to these distant domains? By interpreting data from probes such as NASA's Cassini, which is now exploring the Saturnian system, and MESSENGER, which goes into orbit around Mercury in March 2011, the artist's eye allows us an early visit to these unforgettable locales. Start >
How White Holes (Might) Work
Globes virtuels, images satellites
Twenty Four Hour View of the Sky