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How big is the Universe?

The pattern of superclusters in the UniverseThe pattern of superclusters in the UniverseThe Universe is everything we know. All matter, from the tiniest worm to the most gigantic star, belongs to the Universe. It even includes empty space. Nearly all matter in the Universe is contained in galaxies, giant star “cities”. About 100 billion galaxies are grouped together in giant clouds, called superclusters. These are spread around the Universe like a net. In the spaces in between there are vast empty spaces, known as voids.

The Andromeda GalaxyThe Andromeda Galaxy

Galaxy clusters

The Universe's superclusters are made up of smaller clusters of galaxies. One of these, a cluster of 30 galaxies or so, is called the Local Group. It contains the Milky Way Galaxy, the vast spiral of stars to which our own star, the Sun, belongs.

The galaxies in this cluster are of several different types: spirals (like the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy), barred spirals, ellipticals (shaped like ovals) and irregulars (no obvious shape).

The Local Group The Local Group

The Universe expands after the Big BangThe Universe expands after the Big Bang

Big Bang

The diameter of the Universe, the farthest distance it is possible for humans to see, is at least 93 billion light years across. It may actually stretch for more than 150 billion light years.

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