Some life perspective. In the below video released by NASA this month, the Hubble telescope does a gigapixel zoom-in on Andromeda, another island universe beyond our own. (It was Kant who first speculated that distant nubulae–tiny, blurry “clouds” visible in the clear night sky–might be “island universes”).
In the 1920s, from Mount Wilson in California, we learned that most distant nubulae are in fact what Kant thought they might be: galaxies of stars akin to our own Milky Way galaxy. They weren’t in our galaxy, but far, far beyond it.
So we’ve known we live in a multiverse–a vast collection of island universes–for less than 100 years.
As for Andromeda, it’s the largest galaxy in our Local Group and contains a trillion stars (at least twice as many as the Milky Way, which has between 200-400 billion stars).
In terms of sheer numbers of stars, Andromeda is to the Milky Way what China, in terms of population, is to the United States. It’s an even bigger ass thing than our own big ass thing.
Andromeda is an elephant, not touched by anything we do. Like God.