Space is a vast, fascinating expanse that surrounds us at all times. Space is part of the natural world in much the same way as trees and rivers. When you get technical, everything is in “space”: every planet is moving through space. Earth is spinning around the sun, spinning on its own axis, and dancing with its own moon in a mesmerizing ballet through space. Today, we’re going over some fascinating space facts to tease your brain!
The closest star to Earth, of course, is our own sun. That star’s name is technically “Sol,” and it’s a medium-sized star in the grand scheme of things. However, the closest non-Sol star to Earth is called Alpha Centauri. It’s a bit over four lightyears away, meaning that it takes light four years to travel to the nearby star.
What’s more, Alpha Centauri is actually a triple-star system, composed of three stars in a looping orbit with one another. Proxima b, a planet that orbits one of the three Alpha Centauri stars, is in the “habitable zone” of its star. This means that life as we know it could live on the planet. This has excited scientists and space enthusiasts alike, as it means that other life could be, cosmically, quite close to us.
In science fiction, when a person is pulled into space, they’re often shown to freeze rapidly and die almost instantly. This isn’t exactly accurate, however. A person pulled out into the vacuum of space wouldn’t be in a good position, of course, but they also wouldn’t be flash-freezing. There’s nothing in space, meaning the only way for your body to lose heat is through heat radiation. Heat radiation is very inefficient, so it would take quite some time for your body to cool down.
Much more pressing would be the sudden lack of oxygen. Since there’s no air pressure, the air in your lungs would rush quickly out of your body. This would be far from pleasant. However, assuming you exhaled deeply before getting pulled into space and kept calm, you could survive for a matter of at least minutes, hoping for help to arrive.
Similarly, due to this total lack of air pressure and atmosphere in space, vacuum is completely silent. Human hearing relies on sound waves traveling through a medium, usually the atmosphere, to reach our ears. Without such a medium, sounds can’t travel. As such, science fiction like Star Wars, that shows space ships making sounds in the vacuum of space, are quite unscientific!