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Today, the world’s most experienced astronomers are still unsure of what makes up more than 96% of our universe. Space and everything we know to inhabit it is one of the most perplexing fields of study, for both professionals and those eager to learn more. With that said, the following are some facts that many people may find surprising about our universe.

There are thousands of planets we have yet to discover

Almost everyone learns about the nine planets in our solar system, with some arguing that there are only eight (making Pluto somewhat of a hot topic). However, there are thousands of other planets outside of our solar system that we can see, and even more lying just beyond the reach of our world’s telescopes. There are roughly 3,000 known planets we have yet to confirm, manifesting in all shapes and sizes, some having three suns, and others exceeding temperatures of 10,000 degrees celsius.

The sheer size of some planets

Our sun makes up 99.8% of our solar system’s mass; an astounding fact that dwarfs Earth in comparison. In fact, 1 million Earths would be needed to equal that size. Of the universe’s exoplanets that we have discovered (those being outside of our solar system), some make the sun look no bigger than a speck. For example, DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b is so far the largest planet we have ever discovered. It is 67.7 light years away from Earth, and has been deemed to massive to be a planet, instead taking on the title of brown dwarf. Combine that with the fact that we still have yet to discover thousands of planets, and the possibility of finding something even bigger does not seem so radical.

Nebulae can vary

Many know that the Pillars of Creation are a combination of interstellar gas and dust in which stars are born, hence the name. But, there are nebulae located all throughout the universe, and these can take on all kinds of shapes and sizes. Though they are not visible to the naked eye, researchers have classified a few, including the Crab Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, and the “Hand of God.”

We have prepared for contact with intelligent life

Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977 to reach Jupiter and Saturn, with Voyager 1 now floating through interstellar space. Both of these crafts contain a golden record, which essentially serves as a time capsule for all that Earth has to offer, in preparation for intelligent life of some kind to discover it, and learn about a fellow species attempting to make contact. The records contain songs, greetings, sounds around the planet, and images to convey what our planet is about.

While there is still a plethora of information to learn about our universe, what we have discovered so far is enough to excite many in the field of space study. With technological advancements coming about much quicker today, there is a chance that we may come across even bigger universal breakthroughs in years to come.