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The scale of nearby space

The scale of nearby space

C012/5191

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Credit

MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Image showing the scale of nearby outer space. Our immediate home in space is the Solar System (top right): a series of planets, minor planets, dwarf planets and comets orbiting the Sun. The Earth is 150, 000, 000 km (93, 000, 000 miles) from the Sun (1 Astronomical Unit or AU). The Solar System's planets span a total of 60 AU, but minor and dwarf planets such as Eris are found much farther from the Sun. The second balloon shows nearby interstellar space. The next star is red dwarf Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light-years away. Zooming out, we see our entire Milky Way, a spiral swarm of hundreds of billions of stars 100, 000 light-years across. And in the final balloon we see the Milky Way in relation to local intergalactic space. It is just one of dozens of galaxies in a cluster known as the Local Group. The closest large galaxy, Andromeda, is 2.5 million light-years away.

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