It’s actually really easy to think of space as boring. The planets in our own solar system all seem to be empty rocks or balls of gas, and you find a whole lot of nothing before you get to the next star. Meanwhile, Hollywood’s most creative minds can’t get past populating the place with planets that look a whole lot like Earth (and specifically, parts of California) featuring monsters,?rapey aliens?or Muppets.
But real space is far, far stranger. You just have to know where to look to find things like …
#6. A Planet Made of Diamond
Science fiction writers have this annoying thing they do where they can only think of like five different types of planets. You know, there’s the ice planets (like Hoth in?The Empire Strikes Back) and the forest planets (like in?Avatar), desert planets, lava planets, etc.
But scientists have studied almost 700 real planets outside the solar system, and some of them are downright gaudy. Case in point:?PSR J1719-1438 b. Planet Fancy isn’t having any of that rocky gassy stuff. Because it’s straight up made of diamond:
It’s a wedding gem worthy of Jesus or the Sultan of Dubai.
How Is This Even Possible?
The universe’s biggest showoff actually used to be a star, and sometimes the debris that’s left over after the star dies starts a second career as a planet. In this case, Blingworld started off life as one of two parts of a binary star. The larger twin made like a bomb and supernova-ed. What was left behind was a pulsating star, or pulsar, and a white dwarf. The dwarf?stabilized just far enough away?from its former brother to lose matter to the bully but to keep its carbon core.
What a dick!
Carbon is just a shitload of heat and pressure away from becoming a diamond. On Earth, that happens underground and creates little shiny bits for people to dig up and cram into their jewelry. But in this particular spot in space, the conditions were just right for the entire interior of that former star to harden, crystallize and turn into a planet-sized gem.
Damn it, mankind’s single goal should now be to assemble a mission to tow this bastard back to Earth. There’s one pawn shop owner who’s going to be in for a big fucking surprise.
“Yeah, that’s cute. Get your telescope and come with me.”
#5. A Gigantic Rain Cloud
Here’s another thing you never see in space movies: water. The Millennium Falcon doesn’t have windshield wipers. The Enterprise’s huge display screen doesn’t get fogged up because they flew through a space cloud. If you saw that in a sci-fi movie (with the pilot all “Damn, I can’t see due to all of this?space rain!”), you’d laugh your ass off. “Have these people even?been?to space?”
But, guess what: Scientists have found a big-ass pool of water just floating out there in the cosmos. This massive reservoir of floating space water vapor is in fact the?biggest collection of water?in the universe that we know of.
With the smallest concentration of child urine.
And when we say “big” we’re not talking Pacific Ocean big. We’re talking 100,000 times larger than the sun big. This is a vapor cloud so large it holds 140 trillion times more water than all of our oceans.
And you know what that means …?space sharks.
How Is This Even Possible?
As with everything else on this list, scientists are doing a lot of shrugging and guesstimating at what we’re actually looking at. After all, the water cloud is 10 billion light-years away, so it’s not like the next generation of astronauts are going to be packing their swimming trunks or anything. But they think that what’s going on is that there’s this massive black hole that’s chomping down on everything around it. Instead of spewing out energy like a normal black hole would, the black hole is excreting water vapor. Somehow. They’re still figuring it out.
Basically, picture the big black spot as a gaping mouth and the ring of water around as drool, and you get the idea:
And all like, “Duuuuhhhh,” because black holes are stupid.
Or, if that image is disturbing, pretend the big black hole in the center is a space water park and the gassy ring around it is the universe’s most kickass lazy river.
OK, so you could totally wind up flying your spaceship through a rain cloud. But it’s not like flying through a thunderstorm. After all, there’s no lightning in space. Right?
Scientists have known for a while that lightning isn’t unique to Earth. They’ve observed lightning on Mars and Saturn. What they didn’t know is that lightning could occur in the middle of goddamn space, with a force equal to?a trillion lightning bolts, or to use the proper scientific terms, 50 million fucktons of electricity.
Yeah, where’s your kite now, Benjamin?
That insane electrical current was discovered near?galaxy 3C303. But is this huge electrical current serving as an outlet for God to plug in his blow dryer? No, it’s not doing anything that cool … it’s just firing a massive jet of electrified matter 150,000 light-years into outer space.
OK, so maybe referring to this as a lightning storm was underplaying it a bit. Instead, try imagining a single bolt of lightning 50 percent longer than the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Add a skull and the silhouette of a graveyard and you have yourself an ’80s metal album cover.
How Is This Even Possible?
Like most cool things in space, this electrical current is caused by a black hole, the prima donna of the universe. Astronomers speculate that a giant black hole in the center of 3C303 has an unusually strong magnetic field, which in turn generates a ridiculous amount of electricity.
Which in turn makes a wicked T-shirt design.
In fact, it’s the biggest burst of electrical current ever detected in the universe. Maybe that’s how we were able to pick it up from?two billion freaking light-years away.