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Just a little overview of our place in the universe and where we are going

our solar system

We live on a green blue planet.
All objects orbit around their common center of mass. Our moon orbits around earth. Earth orbits around our sun.

The sun is in the center. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, followed by Venus, Earth and Mars. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are all rocky planets. Between Mars and Jupiter, the planet coming next, is the asteroid belt, a kind of disc that contains all kind of objects from asteroids to dwarf planets like Ceres.
Jupiter is by far the biggest planet in our solar system. It is followed by Saturn that is famous for its rings. Then come Uranus and Neptune. All four are big balls of gas.
Further out we find the Kuiper belt where we can also find Pluto, another dwarf planet.
Going out still further we come to the Oort Cloud.

milkyway galaxy

Our solar system is part of the milkyway galaxy. The milky way galaxy consists of many solar systems.

The orion arm is a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy that contains our solar system and with it Earth, our home planet.
Our sun orbits around Sagittaris A, a supermassive black hole at the center of the milkyway galaxy.

Zooming a bit further out gives you this picture:

The large magellanic cloud, the small magellanic cloud, the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and other satellite galaxies are orbiting our milkyway galaxy and its black hole. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is our closest neighbour.

local group

The milkyway galaxy and the andromeda galaxy with all their satellite galaxies form the local group. The 2 galaxies attract each other, so they orbit each other and will merge one day.

Virgo Supercluster (Local Supercluster)

The local group is located on the outskirts of the Virgo Supercluster in a small filament (thread) extending from the Fornax Cluster to the Virgo Cluster.
The Virgo Cluster is at the center of the Virgo Supercluster. But: everything is movig towards the Great Attractor, the center of the Laniakea Supercluster. The galaxies within the Virgo Supercluster are not gravitationally bound.
Most luminous galaxies in the Virgo Supercluster are concentrated in clouds. 98% can be found in eleven clouds:
  1. Canes Venatici
  2. Virgo Cluster
  3. Virgo II (southern extension)
  4. Leo II
  5. Virgo III
  6. Crater (NGC 3672)
  7. Leo I
  8. Leo Minor (NGC 2841)
  9. Draco (NGC 5907)
  10. Antlia (NGC 2997)
  11. NGC 5643

Laniakea Supercluster

The Laniakea Supercluster includes the Milky Way and approximately 100,000 other galaxies Researchers separate Laniakea into 4 separate superclusters:
  1. Virgo Supercluster, of which the Milky Way is a part of
  2. Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster
  3. Pavo-Indus Supercluster
  4. Southern Supercluster
The Great Attractor is at the core of the Laniakea Supercluster. Our galaxy and other "nearby" galaxies are being pulled toward The Great Attractor which is about 150 million light years away.

But while we are moving towards the Great Attractor it is in fact not the greatest attraction in the universe.

Shapley Supercluster

The Great Attractor itself (and we and all the other galaxies around with it) is still moving toward an even greater mass, the Shapley Supercluster. The Shapley Supercluster is the most massive galaxy cluster within a billion light years with a mass of more than ten million billion suns.
Is the Shapley Supercluster itself orbiting around something? Let's see what the researchers find out next. The journey continues...

Copyright © 2004-2024 Katja Socher, tuxgraphics.org