There are five to ten times more stars in the sky than grains of sand on all the world’s beaches. If you were to hold one of those grains of sand up to the sky, the patch would cover 10,000 galaxies! Astronomers have calculated there are actually 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Hence, the odds we are alone are minimum at best.
Intergalactic travel is still far beyond human capabilities. However, scientists have learned much about the closest galaxy to Earth. That galaxy, Andromeda, 2.5 million light years away, has been a scientific fact since ancient times. Although light pollution limits views of Andromeda, it can be seen as a blur on the clearest of nights. According to research supported by the Spitzer Space Telescope, Andromeda dwarfs the Milky Way and contains twice the number of stars.
In addition to the Spitzer Space Telescope, NASA used the Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope to study planetary systems. These revolutionary designs aid in seeking stars and orbiting satellites. They can also determine if a planet has liquid water, the key to life as we know it. NASA continues to implement newer telescopes, expanding our knowledge of atmospheres similar to Earth.
The center of Andromeda contains 26 black holes, while many others are still being discovered. Very little is known about black holes, but a simple definition explains them as a region of space with a gravitational field unyielding to matter and radiation. Simply put, nothing escapes a black hole.
Some believe the Milky Way will not escape colliding with Andromeda. The galactic collision will be catastrophic, but not imminent. Predicted to occur in around four billion years, there is nothing relatively uncommon about the event. It is likely Andromeda has collided with other galaxies in the past. Scientists estimate the Andromeda Galaxy is on target towards the Milky Way at 100 them kilometers per second.
Despite bumping into one another, the fact remains there is a probability of life beyond the boundaries of the Earth and the Milky Way. It would be short sighted to believe the human race is alone in the cosmos. Both film and television have done their best to conjure up little green men and flying saucers to the point of disbelief. But what if we were think outside our solar system, maybe at the chances of creatures living light years away on planets we will never inhabit? Perhaps these life forms aren’t carbon based or resemble anything remotely comparable in our imaginations.
Statistically speaking, life is possible outside of our universe. Questions will always remain, while answers lie intermingled within the stars and moons and galaxies that surround us. We are but a grain of sand in the scope of all that exist. It is humbling to think what we will discover in the future. Like Andromeda and the Milky Way, science, astronomy and history are on their collision course, incomprehensible beyond belief.
Will we be content to be alone amongst the stars? Or will we embrace an era that supersedes our loneliness? Will we bicker over our interplanetary differences? Or will we marvel at our celestial similarities? Eventually there will come a time, some believe sooner than later, when we realize our loneliness in universe is but a distant memory.