(1) It is very, very, very large.  (It contains 50 billion trillion stars.)

(2) It is not infinite.

The number:   50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000    or   5 X 10²².    How can we possibly think about this?  Astronomer Hugh Ross compares the number of stars to an equal number of “dimes.”  To follow this further, go through the DOOR.   [That’s 10 to the 22th power if your exponent turns to mush on your screen.]



If the same number of dimes [as stars] were packed together as densely as possible and piled 1,500 feet high (as high as some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers) they would cover the North American continent.”  (from Why the Universe Is the Way It Is [Baker, 2008])

(But not also South America…there wouldn’t be enough…)

Here’s another comparison from Ross:  “Shrink an average star (about a million miles in diameter) down to the size of a grapefruit.  Hold that grapefruit and ask a friend to hold another.  Given the average distance between stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (about 40 trillion miles), can you guess where your friend would have to take her grapefruit to illustrate the distance between stars?  If you, with grapefruit in hand, stood in downtown Los Angeles, she would have to travel to Peru or Siberia.  Now try to imagine that distance multiplied 40 million times (that’s the necessary diameter of a volume large enough to accommodate 50 billion trillion grapefruit.”  (from Why…)

Large, but not infinite…That’s what our best evidence from science tells us.

Author: John Knapp