Following on from the last post, I thought I'd share the picture that's lived on my desktop for the last year or so. Although the small version hardly does the scene justice (click on it to see the spectacular full-size version) it never fails to stun me, how immensely huge and old the universe is (and how small and insignificant humanity is).
Something equally impressive, although without the pretty pictures, is the Boötes Void. From Wikipedia:
The Boötes void is a tremendously large, approximately spherically shaped nearly-empty region of space, devoid of galaxies. At nearly 250 million light-years in diameter, it is one of the largest known voids, and is referred to as a supervoid. It was discovered in 1981 by Robert Kirshner, Augustus Oemler, Jr., Paul Schechter and Stephen Shectman in a survey of galactic redshifts.
It is located in the area of the constellation Boötes, for which it is named. To give an idea of its scale, "If the Milky Way had been in the center of the Boötes void, we wouldn't have known there were other galaxies until the 1960s." (Greg Aldering, University of Minnesota).
I also found a very interesting article on the void, at a blog called 'Accelerating Future', which contains this paragraph:
According to the Wikipedia article on the topic, the Boötes Void was mentioned in a novel by Martin Amis, “Night Train”, which centers around the mysterious suicide of a beautiful and successful astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell. The immense size of the void leads her to conclude that there is no meaning to life, so she kills herself.
So that's my novel out of the window then! On a serious note, the more we learn about space, the more we understand that the heavens are not the playground of the gods, but are an empty and lonely expanse, the likes of which was never even imagined till we actually looked...Go Top