As you are reading this, the Earth revolves around the sun which is moving through space at a stunning 792,000 km/h. On top of that, our universe is moving at a mind boggling 2.1 million km/h.
You may think as you are reading this you’re sitting still? No. You and everyone else are moving at a speed of about 1700 km/h hour right now. You don’t feel or see it because everyone else and everything else is moving at the same rate.
All the planets in the solar system and their moons also travel through space. In order to retain a stable orbit, it is essential for Earth to move around 30km a second. The innermost planets in our system, Mercury and Venus travel faster while Mars and the external planets of our solar system fly through space at a sluggish pace. Even the sun is in motion, travelling at an unbelievable speed and revolving roughly once every 28 days.
If we look at the bigger picture we will understand that even our gigantic Milky Way galaxy is in motion, in fact everything that makes up the universe such as stars, gas clouds, planets, black holes are all moving at extremely high rates of speed. Feeling woozy?
Just as Earth revolves around the sun, it revolves the galactic centre 30,000 light years away in an elliptic trajectory. It finishes a revolution every 225 million years, roughly. This is known as a galactic year. See, nothing in the universe is stationary. Everything revolves and everything spins around something else.
It’s predicted that since the sun and Earth came into being, 20 galactic years have passed, which means we ended 20 revolutions orbiting the galactic centre.
However, if we relate detailed human history to our movement through the universe, we would understand we hardly moved in our galactic path. The universe takes a long time to do stuff! But what about the speed? In order to finish a successful revolution around the galactic centre, our sun has to travel at 792,000 km/h. Including Earth, all other objects in our complete solar system follow the sun at this speed.
Not only do moons, planets and our sun travel through space, our Milky Way galaxy, along with dozens of others, are speeding to a mysterious point in the universe called “The Great Attractor.” Don’t ask me what that is because nobody knows – but it must be huge! Where’s it all going to end? In order to answer this mystery astronomers need more answers, but our telescopes aren’t capable enough to do that, not just yet that is.
Things however are soon to change because big things are on the horizon.
A trio of telescopes set to open in the 2020s – the European Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, the Thirty Metre Telescope in Hawaii and Chile’s Giant Magellan Telescope – will absolutely dwarf all telescopes currently in existence.
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