Tuesday, August 6, 2013

[worlds without number]

I just read an article in our church magazine, Ensign, that blew my mind! Whenever I look at nature or learn more about it, I am certain that God is real and that He created it all. Everything is so organized and perfect. There is no way that it all happened by accident and that there is no Lawgiver in the universe. This article was about the universe out there and how vast it is. I'll share quotes from it here but you can read the entire article by clicking here.

“… If there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—
“All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and … all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 121:28, 30–31).
That promised knowledge is being revealed to us by faith, foremost in the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is also coming to us by study. (See D&C 88:118.) Astronomers, with the aid of powerful instruments, are helping us glimpse the extent of God’s dominions. While astrophysics in the future will surely be modified as more is learned of the universe, what we have learned so far is mind-boggling. And if anything is true of the research done over the past several decades, it is that the more we learn, the more incredible our view of God’s creations becomes.

Light travels at 186,282 miles (299,792 km) per second. As far as we can tell, nothing in the physical universe can go faster. Because light travels so fast, and because its speed is constant, we can use it to measure the incredible distances in the universe. Light from the sun takes only eight minutes to reach earth, which revolves around the sun at an average of 93 million miles (149.7 million km). A number of other planets and objects revolve around the sun. Circling the sun at the edge of this solar system is a cloud of small, icy objects. They are so far away that it takes seven hours for light from the sun to reach them. That is nothing compared with the distance to our nearest stellar neighbor. Light from Proxima Centauri travels more than four years to reach us. Light from the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, travels to us in about two million years. Because of the sheer size of the universe, astronomers commonly measure distances in light-years, so Andromeda is said to be two million light-years away.

Most stars are grouped into communities called galaxies. Our own, the Milky Way, is a medium-sized spiral galaxy more than 100 thousand light-years in diameter. It has between 200 and 400 billion stars. Yet it is only one of billions of galaxies—estimates range from 100 billion to 500 billion. The largest galaxy discovered so far has 100 trillion stars. All those stars come in a dazzling array of colors and sizes, some more than a thousand times larger than our own.
Together, all the galaxies in the visible universe contain an estimated 30 billion trillion stars. Yet that number may be a small fraction of all there are. Evidence suggests that we can see only about 5 percent of all there is (the rest is “dark matter” and “dark energy,” so called because it can’t be seen or detected directly by the instruments we have). The universe, in fact, may be infinite in size.
And God controls it all.

In recent years, with advanced telescopes and other instruments, scientists have begun to search not just for stars but also for planets around those stars. The number of planets discovered is growing rapidly. As of March 2013, the number surpassed 900, and some appeared to lie in the same habitable zone as our earth. The number of planets in our galaxy alone could easily be in the hundreds of billions. Considering that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the visible universe, the number of planets is so large as to be incomprehensible—truly worlds without number (see Moses 1:33–35).

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