I posted this comment on my last blog in response to someone commenting on one of the pictures in the blog (from the hubble telescope). The picture contained several thousand galaxies, each with billions of solar systems. My response contained many similarly breathtaking pictures as well as descriptions, please enjoy them (and remember to click them to magnify):
Google “hubble ultra deep field”, it’s the most powerful lense of the most powerful telescope (in orbit around the earth). The pictures from it are breathtaking. Here is a picture of a galaxy collision. Here’s a very pretty galaxy called the “sombrero galaxy”. This is the type of galaxy we inhabit (a giant spiral). This is the current state of an exploding star, it’s death was actually observed by chinese and arab astronomers a thousand years ago. It is called the crab nebula and it’s been expanding at 1500 kilometers per second for a thousand years and it is so massive it takes light 11 years to get from one end of it to the other. Here’s another ultra deep field snapshot, thousands of galaxies. It’s estimated based on these sorts of images that there are no less than ten billion galaxies and no more than 300 billion in the observable universe. The universe is absolutely humbling. There could be trillions of intelligent species/civilizations, each one just as complex and unique and beautiful as our own. Whether that came from god, nature or something else we haven’t even thought of yet, it’s beyond beautiful. Our minds can’t even grasp at it it’s so amazing.
[Edit: In the last picture the objects with four points are stars in our own galaxy]