clock menu more-arrow no yes

It's impossible to appreciate how vast the universe is. But this video will help.

Earlier this year, NASA released a gigantic, incredibly sharp photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, taken by the Hubble space telescope.

Below is a small crop of the full image (which, NASA points out, is so big that to display it at full resolution, you'd need 600 HD TVs). The galaxy has more than 100 billion stars, spread over 40,000 light years.

A small section of the enormous Andromeda photo. (NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler)

It's tough to convey these huge numbers in a way that makes sense. But YouTube user daveachuk made the astounding video above that helps put them into perspective.

As the video zooms deeper and deeper, remember that every single pinprick of light is a star — in most cases, scientists believe, a star orbited by its own planet (or planets).

Think of it this way: our Solar System is so big that we still haven't sent any spacecraft beyond its borders. But it's replicated over and over, literally billions of times, in the Andromeda Galaxy. And Andromeda is just a single galaxy, relatively close to our Milky Way — both are part of a larger supercluster of galaxies called Laniakea.

Make the video full screen, turn the volume up, and let it sink in. The vastness of our universe is beyond words.

Further reading: This is the most detailed map yet of our place in the universe