Consider the picture above and my description of what you are looking at.
This is a compilation image taken by the Hubble Telescope. This update version called the Ultra or Extreme Deep Field Image was compiled and released in 2009. It shows a portion of the sky near Polaris or the North Star. If you were to hold a pencil at arms length the width of the sky that Hubble was pointed at was no bigger than the pencil point at the end of your arm. That area of the sky seems dark and uninteresting seen with the naked human eye. It’s not.
But what you are looking at is close to 10,000 galaxies that are 13.2 billion years old. Considering the maximum speed of light you are looking at a snapshot of how those galaxies looked 13.2 billion years ago. Two important points: 1.) The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old and 2.) Astronomers estimate our universe, the current universe, there may have been other previously (that’s science fiction, my area) is approximately 13.7 billion years old. So, you are looking back in time at galaxies like our Milky Way at the beginning of the creation of the universe.
Galaxies are cosmic structures that swirl around a central core in many cases surrounded by hundreds of millions of stars. Each one of those stars are suns, many like our sun yellow in color and young in age. And around each of those stars or suns there are probably planets made out of the same material found throughout the universe. That material is building material needed to create planets.
Drilling down even further, our Milky Way, just one galaxy among trillions in our universe, contains anywhere from 100 to 400 million stars. One of those stars is our sun with nine known planets. Extrapolate out and you will see that in that Extreme Deep Field Image seen above their are 10,000 seen/detected galaxies, each one of those galaxies contain hundreds of millions of stars, and each one of those stars might and probably contain planets…you might have trillions of planets in just one galaxy. Just as there are billions or trillions of planets in our Milky Way, just one of trillions of galaxies in our universe.
The universe is so very big and we are so very small. And yet, our somewhat developed minds are able to consider the edge of our universe, who we are in that universe and where we fit in that universe.
You can travel in your mind to those galaxies, stars, and planets to visit other alien and ancient civilizations. Put on your thinking cap now…can you just imagine how far advanced, if they didn’t self-destruct, those ancient alien civilizations might be at this very moment and not as you see them when their galaxies, stars, and planets were just created 13.2 billion years ago. Intelligent creatures who survive on those planets may be nothing more than pure intelligent energy in their evolution or they might me just like us…driving to their nearest supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, and the latest National Enquirer.
Whether you know it or not or whether you think about it or not your are physically, chemically, and psychologically connected to the image you see above…the Extreme Deep Field Image.
The next time you are gazing up at the night sky, find the Big Dipper and look at the pointing side of that dipper at it shows a trajectory to the North Star, Polaris. Around and near Polaris are those galaxies you see in the above picture 13.2 billion light years away from where you are standing at that moment. And wonder, if there is some creature or alien or intelligence that is looking back at you at the galaxy we call the Milky Way, looking at our far limb location of our galaxy and wondering if intelligent life exists in that galaxy, near that star, surrounded by planets, your planet. Two living species gazing at one another through 13.2 billion light years of space and time considering if the other exists.
Author of “The SETI Trilogy”