10 Fastest Things in the Universe

A Nova Approach
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures a 4,000 light-year long jet of plasma emanating from the bright nucleus of the giant elliptical galaxy M87.
Image courtesy F. Duccio Macchetto/NASA/ESA

One of the newest fastest things in our universe was accidentally discovered in 2014, when astronomers were studying the M87 galaxy in the Virgo Cluster nearly 54 million light-years from our Milky Way home.

A little background: You'll remember, thanks to Edwin Hubble, that light from distant objects moving away from our galaxy appears red to us. That's because the universe's expansion, also a pretty speedy phenomenon, causes the wavelengths to elongate toward the red end of the spectrum (a redshift).

As an object zips toward us, however, it has a blueshift. Now, to get to the fast part: Astronomers found a serious blueshift coming from M87, with the object moving toward us at a speed of 638 miles (1,026 kilometers) per second [source: Crosswell].

Scientists believe it's a star cluster shot out from M87's enormous black hole, which is 1,000 times more massive than the Milky Way's. But never fear: It's very unlikely that its trajectory will bring it close to us, and it'll probably end up just hanging out in a group of galaxies outside the Virgo Cluster.

Author's Note: 10 Fastest Things in the Universe

I've never gotten a speeding ticket, nor had any desire to push my body to extreme speeds. (Extreme for me being a sub-nine minute mile.) While it would be fun to hold on to a cheetah's back (or Usain Bolt's, for that matter) in a sprint, I think Andrew Gardikis has the right idea: attempt a speed record that can be accomplished in pajamas.

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Why Does Jupiter Have 79 Moons When Earth Just Has One?

Why Does Jupiter Have 79 Moons When Earth Just Has One?

HowStuffWorks explains why planets like Jupiter and Saturn have so many moons and Earth has only one.