101 Wonders Between Earth and the Edge of the CosmosSean B. Carroll
1 November 2012
Published by Atlantic Books
You are about to embark on a journey that will take you to the edge of the Universe and the beginning of time. You will cross 46.5 billion light years of space, exploring 101 celestial wonders ranging from comets to quasars. You will encounter grandeur on an astonishing scale, beauty in the most unexpected places, and the most shocking natural violence.
You start here, on Earth, nestled in the Orion Spur of the Milky Way Galaxy, near the centre of the Local Group of galaxies, gravitationally bound to the Virgo Supercluster, but the entire Universe is now yours to explore. You will see sand dunes snaking across the northern plains of Mars, driven by the winds of spring. You will soar above alien cloudscapes of fluorescing gases, and burrow into the secret nests of new stars hidden within. You will watch hypergiant stars tear themselves to pieces and witness the insatiable appetite of supermassive black holes. You will see galaxies collide and superclusters gather like motes of dust on a cosmic web that stretches from one side of the Universe to the other.
Your journey is organized into four zones, each representing a distinct cosmic dominion: interplanetary, interstellar, intergalactic and, finally, intertemporal. Each celestial realm is home to its own unique inhabitants, its own cycles of life and death, and each has its own origins, its own ultimate fate. As you move from zone to zone, so the pace of your journey increases. Your first interplanetary steps are measured in mere light seconds, your final strides in the intertemporal zone are measured in giga-light years.
Voyager’s grand tour of space offers an unrivalled portrait of our cosmic habitat. Quite simply, there is no better way to see the Universe.