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The Hidden Lives of Galaxies - How Big is the Universe?

Activity #1 — How Big is the Universe?

Objectives:

  • Student will be able to estimate the size of the visible universe.
  • Student will be able to convert from centimeters to kilometers.

Directions:

Calculate the approximate size of the universe given the following scenario: The Milky Way has a radius of approximately 50,000 light years. The visible universe has a radius of approximately 15 billion light years or 300,000 times the size of the Milky Way. If the Milky Way is an 8 centimeter wide coffee cup, how big would the rest of the universe be in kilometers?

The Milky Way has a radius of about 50,000 light years. What is the total size of the Milky Way Galaxy?________ The visible universe has a radius approximately 15 billion light years or 300,000 times the size of the Milky Way. So if an 8 cm wide coffee cup represents the Milky Way, the visible universe would be a sphere approx.________km in radius.

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A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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