The universe is a vast, complex, and undeniably beautiful place, containing everything we know and everything we do not. From the smallest particles to the largest structures, the universe is an ever-changing and ever-expanding place that continues to fascinate and intrigue humankind.

For all practical purposes here, the universe as we know it is thought to have originated in an ultimately mysterious series of events; inflation and the hot big bang, occurring around 13.8 billion years ago. Though all physicists and amateur thinkers do not accept this, those enigmatic events marked the beginning of the universe as we know it, with all matter and energy and forces expanding outwards in, quite literally, a universally forceful way.

Since that time, the universe has continued to expand and evolve, with galaxies forming and colliding, stars being born and dying, and planets and moons forming around those stars. By current cosmological estimates, there are over one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe, each containing billions of stars and planets. One of the most fascinating things about the universe is its sheer, unfathomable size. The observable universe is, by best estimations, around ninety-three billion light-years in diameter, and there may be more regions beyond what we can currently see. In addition, the universe is known to be constantly expanding, thanks to Edwin Hubble’s data collection, and at a rate near the speed of light, with unreachably distant objects moving even farther away from our view every moment.

Despite its vast size, the universe is inexplicitly interconnected; attesting to the wisdom that, in fact, everything is one. The laws of physics governing our world also apply to the most distant galaxies and the tiniest particles, and the interactions between these objects can have profound effects on the entire universe. Perhaps best representing this idea is the formulation of quantum theory – a brilliant and successful theory describing (well, trying to describe) the nature of the subatomic world.

Due to a variety of reasons such as limits of human intellect, technology, and our place in the universe, there is still much that we do not know about it; the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which are thought to make up most of the universe’s mass and energy, as well as the universe’s origin, fate, and certain observable characteristics such as particles and black holes.

Though these questions remain unanswered, the universe continues to captivate and inspire all forms of life with its beauty and mystery. From the colorful nebulae to the intricate structure of spiral galaxies and lingering philosophical questions regarding other dimensions and the truth of reality itself, there is no shortage of fantastical fascinations to behold.

As we continue to explore and learn more about the universe, we will uncover even more wonders and mysteries to encourage and to inspire us. Whether through the power of telescopes, the study of particles and their constituents, or the exploration of distant worlds and black holes devouring everything that crosses them, the universe will continue to be a source of fascination and discovery for, altogether likely, all of eternity.