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Top 10 Biggest Things In The Universe

Biggest things in the Universe

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Top 10 Biggest Things In The Universe

Standing next to the pyramids, one cannot help but marvel at their size. The Burj Dubai, standing over a half mile tall, is equally stunning as it rises into the clouds. Towering above them both is the monstrous, and often deadly, Mt. Everest.

Yet, compared to some of the things that exist in our universe, they are absolutely microscopic. Today, we will explore the largest things in the universe based on their relative sizes.

11. Largest Asteroid

Ceres is the largest asteroid we’ve discovered so far. It contains 1/3rd the mass of the entire asteroid belt and is almost 600 miles in diameter. It’s about the size of California and is massive enough that its own gravity forces it into a spherical shape. It’s so large that it also has earned the title of ‘Dwarf Planet’. It’s the only object in the asteroid belt big enough to earn the designation.

10. Largest Planet


Located in the constellation Hercules, planet TRES4 is 70% larger than Jupiter in diameter, but has only 80% of Jupiter’s mass. Because of how close it orbits to its sun, it is thought that the intense heat expand the gasses that make up this planet, resulting in an almost ‘marshmallow-like’ density. It holds the title of the largest planet we’ve discovered so far.

Update: Science is never finished. Since this list was compiled, observations of an exoplanet called WASP-17b suggest that it is even bigger than TRES4. Despite its radius being twice that of Jupiter’s, it only has half the mass. This makes it even “fluffier” than TRES4.

9. Largest Star

UY Scuti - Largest Known Star

VY Canis Majoris is the largest star (in diameter) that we know of. It’s in a class of star known as Red Hyper Giants. It’s 1,420 times the sun’s radius and would take the world’s fastest race car 2,600 years to circle it once. If you replaced our Sun with VY Canis Majoris, its surface would extend out beyond Saturn. (see picture to the right for comparison to our own sun).

Update: In 2013, NML Cygni was verified as the largest known star. It’s a whopping 1,650 times our sun’s radius. That is so large; it would take a beam of light 6 hours and 40 minutes to circle it once.

2nd Update: Science continues to astound us! Now beating out NML Cygni, UY Scuti is the leading candidate for the largest star ever discovered. At 1,708 times our suns radius, if the earth was the size of a basketball, UY Scuti would be 125,000 feet tall!

8. Largest Black Hole

Black holes are not physically large regions of space. But when you include their mass, they are among the top competitors for the largest things in the universe. And quasar OJ287 is the largest black hole we’ve spotted.<Black Hole at the center of NGC1277 It’s estimated to be 18 billion times the mass of our sun and is a supermassive black hole located in the center of a galaxy. To put that in perspective, it’s an object larger than our entire solar system. Just how big can a black hole get? According to scientists, there is no theoretical upper limit.

Update: 11/28/2012 – Science never fails to keep impressing us with its newest discoveries. Researchers at the University of Texas, using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, have discovered what they claim to be the largest supermassive black hole yet. The black hole, a whopping 17 billion solar masses, resides at the center of galaxy NGC 1277. That is so huge, it accounts for 14% of the entire galaxy’s mass. The event horizon is 11x the diameter of Neptune’s orbit around our sun – that’s a radius of over 300 AU.

7. Largest Galaxy

IC1101 Galaxy
A super galaxy is a galaxy that has merged with many others and they sit in the middle of galaxy clusters. The largest that we’ve discovered so far is the IC1101 super galaxy. It is 6 million light years across. Compare that to the Milky Way which is a mere 100 thousand light years across. IC1101 is a staggering 60 times larger than our own.

6. Radio Lobes

radio lobesRadio lobes are powered by the accretion disk of supermassive black holes. These supermassive black holes can be found at the center of most galaxies. As material gets consumed by a black hole, some energy and matter is flung away at high speeds which occur at the poles of black holes.

These emissions are in the form of radio energy jets which can be seen with a radio telescope. The largest is located in the galaxy is 3C236 which is located in the constellation Leo Minor. Its jets span 40 million light years across. The jets from end to end are by far larger than any galaxy.

5. Lyman Alpha Blobs

lymen Blob

These blobs are a very short lived phase of the birth of galaxy clusters. They are amorphous objects filled with gas that haven’t fully coalesced and are not bound or set gravitationally yet. As these blobs age, they will condense and eventually form giant collections of galaxies.

Lyman Alpha blobs resemble amoebas or jellyfish in shape. The largest one that we have spotted is 200 million light years wide and is located in the constellation Aquarius.

4. Shapley Super Cluster

shapley Galaxy

The Shapley supercluster is a collection of galaxies some 400+ million light years long. Our own Milky Way galaxy is roughly 4,000 times smaller. The supercluster is so big, that our fastest spacecraft would spend trillions of years trying to cross it.

It is the most massive gravitationally bound object that we currently know of. Being gravitationally bound means that as the universe continues to expand, the gravity between the galaxies in this cluster are strong enough overcome that expansion, keeping them together forever.

3. KBC Void / The Boötes Void

Galaxies usually reside in clusters. These clusters are lightly gravitationally bound and expanding along with space/time itself in groups.

But what about the areas where these groups do not reside? Enter the Boötes Void. This region of “nothingness” is a whopping 250 million light years across. That’s 2,500 milky way galaxies placed side by side. Voids are like holes in our universe, and the Boötes Void is the largest.the void While these voids are not totally empty, and some galaxies do reside within them, they contain significantly less matter than the rest of the universe.

Update 2/2/2017: Astronomers have recently discovered 2 voids that are significantly larger than the Boötes Void. The first is known as the Canes Venatici Supervoid (or just “Giant Void”). This void is 1.3 billion light years across. The second is the largest void we have discovered thus far. You’d be quite shocked to learn that the Milky Way and our local group reside within this void. It’s called the KBC Void and it measures in at a massive 2 billion light years.

2. The Huge-LQG

Discovered in January of 2013, the Huge-LGQ (Huge Large Quasar Group) is said to be the largest structure in the universe. The Huge Large Quasar GroupThe Huge-LQG is a collection of 73 confirmed quasars (a quasar is a very energetic galaxy). Astronomers discovered that the group of gravitationally bound quasars is so large that it would take over 4 billion years to traverse from end to end – while traveling at light speed.

It’s so big, that its very existence puts it at odds with Einstein’s Cosmological Principle. The cosmological principle says that, when looking at the universe from a large enough scale, it should look the exact same no matter where you are observing from, or where you look. The Huge-LGQ throws a wrench into that assumption. Researchers are understandably fascinated by the discovery and are eager to continue their investigations.

1. The Cosmic Web

cosmic webMost astronomers agree that the biggest thing in the universe is the cosmic web. It’s an endless scaffolding of galaxy clusters surrounded by dark matter and resembles a three dimensional spiderweb. Clusters of galaxies and dark matter make up “hubs” and filaments of galaxies connect these hubs producing a web like appearance. (see side picture)

How big is the web? If the Milky Way galaxy was a poppy seed, then the cosmic web of the observable universe would be the size of the Rose Bowl stadium.

Photos by NASA and Wikicommons and are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license



  1. pepsi813

    March 6, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Just by reading this, there has to be other life forms out there. I believe there is. I just hope they’re logical and empathetic creatures like us.

    • Gerard

      April 2, 2012 at 12:43 am

      The size of Ceres is remarkable. Also what I never knew about was that void. amazing.

    • Smasher4

      May 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

      There HAS to be other life out there.

    • Phillip

      September 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      If they are, then we are all screwed when they find us.

      • Justin

        November 6, 2012 at 2:39 am

        There may or not be other life forms, but who says we’re screwed? We might possibly be for some reason the most technologically advanced beings in existence! Who knows the possibilities out there, and we haven’t even physically explored 0.000000000000000000001% and less of OUR universe.

      • Damian

        March 17, 2014 at 10:48 am

        Why would we be screwed? Why would they harm us? What if they don’t even spend time studying our existence and just let us live? What if WE find them and harm them?

      • lostn

        March 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

        Actually, if anyone is screwed, it’s them.

        • Cosmic Eye

          April 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

          No one will be screwed. I would do all in my power to never allow the human race to harm another life form that is not from earth. That would be the dumbest thing the humans could possibly choose to do. Right now we don’t have a galactic reputation. It’s best to keep it that way. If I was the ruler of a civilization, I would find the force with the worst reputation to annihilate/take over.

          • Martyn Gray-Horwood

            January 21, 2016 at 4:07 am

            But if you went around destroy things just because you don’t agree with them you are no better than the things that you would destroy.

    • Jo

      November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      Our best estimate is that 1 in every 100 planets that could support life have life on them. With the Hubble telescope we have discovered over 20,000 planets that could support life, which means we have already found over 200 planets with life. Estimates are that if we extend that to the rest of our galaxy, we would find over 1,000,000,000 planets that could support life. This means in our galaxy alone, there is over 10,000,000 planets with life on them. Now extend that to the over 1,000,000,000,000 galaxies in the visible universe.

      • VP

        December 5, 2012 at 7:59 am


        “1% of the planets that could support life have life on them” – That is just NOT KNOWN! We don’t yet understand how life originate on earth…
        “20,000 planets that could support life discovered by the Hubble Space telescope” – Most of the planets discovered up to date have been discovered by the Kepler and CoRoT spacecraft and ground base telescope. There are around 800 planets discovered by now, Hubble Space Telescope have discovered some of them but has been mainly used for characterizing the atmosphere of a handfull of close-in planets.

        Please stop saying crap.

        • Martyn Gray-Horwood

          January 21, 2016 at 4:09 am

          We have a best guess as to how life started here. Without time travel that would break all the accepted rules for theoretical time travel we will never get beyond a best guess because we will never be able to witness the starting point.

    • Juanny

      May 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Do you REALLY want them to be like us though? When you think about it, sure, we are amazing in so many different ways, but if you look at the other side… We are cruel, and we fight over almost anything. We have more hate than love, and look where at has got us. Lets just hope that they are somewhat like us, but even if they are a little different, that is okay!

      • Damian

        March 17, 2014 at 10:50 am

        You just described rasicm with that last sentence… We do the same, no matter what the color of your skin is, everybody accepts you (aside from a few racist people). ;)

    • Steve

      July 2, 2013 at 2:37 am

      Me too – and it may be in our best interests we are never located. I will paraphrase Stephen Hawking, “is it wise to yell out in the jungle?”

    • Sciencegirlz

      September 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

      I know, what if there were life forms out there? Well there are. You can’t say they aren’t — there are billions apron billions of galaxy’s out there. Why wouldn’t there be extra terrestrial beings?

    • Martyn Gray-Horwood

      January 21, 2016 at 4:02 am

      I don’t think it would matter what kind of race they are personally. When you consider how big the universe is, the time scales involved to cross it, it doesn’t seem logical to me that we would ever encounter an alien race but they must be out there. The probability of Earth being the only inhabitable planet and humans being the only ‘intelligent’ race (if you can really consider humans intelligent, I don’t. We may be intelligent by Earth standards but in universal standards we must be quite pathetic) to inhabit the entire universe.
      The only way I see that we could ever encounter another intelligent species is if they were significantly more advanced/intelligent than us, this would require a planet and solar system that is older than ours OR an incredibly nourishing atmosphere to allow accelerated evolution. If these things exist and a species has evolved in it and then created advanced technology that allows them to traverse the universe (or the galaxy) then some Earth primates that have failed to advance much past the nuclear era would surely be bellow the concerns of such an advanced species?

      • Matthew Brewer

        August 7, 2016 at 4:22 am

        We are parasites to this planet, if we can’t fix that none of this will matter. In my opinion chances favor that other intelligent life in the universe will be far more advanced genetically, intelligently, and blada blada. Imagine an intelligent race that has traveled 100 million light years to get to us and have been evolving for, oh, I don’t know, 1 billion years… As NDT says we would look like zoo animals compared to their children and I think that analogy is putting it far too lightly.

      • Sergio manzoratte

        November 28, 2016 at 7:38 pm

        And if we happen to find them we would most probably blow them away

  2. kaylyn

    March 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Hello, I love your website! So much fun learning off your site!

  3. Correction

    April 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Correction: Cluststers should obviously be Clusters

  4. jhhh

    July 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Wow, VY Canis Major is absolutely huge!

    • Barack

      July 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      As we look up into the sky and venture to the deep space with our eye, there is something that isn’t what is seems, for example if we look at Vega (wich is 25 ly away) we see at it as it was 25 years ago, which means, that when we see VY Canis Majoris as it was 3 900 years ago, depending of its state as a red giant, it could have vanished years ago :)

  5. justinpatrick1011

    September 21, 2012 at 6:16 am

    The largest Star is now NML Cygni.

  6. J4

    April 3, 2013 at 4:40 am

    All I know is that the cosmic web is the biggest thing I’ll ever know from now on! DAMN!

  7. brogan

    April 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This website makes me smart & better at maths and science. That’s not cool. :0

  8. Bri

    April 9, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Wow, this is very interesting… things this massive that exist. However, how was all of this discovered? Oh, and of course there is other life out there somewhere, perhaps much more intelligent than even mankind.

  9. mike

    April 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Anyone who thinks of life existing on other planets as an unknown to be questioned is pretty silly. Even if it isn’t as advanced, life does indeed exist out there. It’s just a question of where, what type, and if we will ever reach it in the near future.

    Great article as well, this is very cool stuff.

    • levi

      February 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      You can’t say that definitively, you just do not know. Yes, there is a possibility, but that’s it. It is not a fact, it has not been proven to be true.

      • Bananas for everyone

        January 6, 2017 at 11:20 pm

        An EXTREMELY high probability.

  10. trick

    April 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Well the biggest planet is JK987. It’s is bigger than TRES4.

  11. Johndric Valdez

    June 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

    New update for black holes: In December 2011, a black hole was discovered in NGC 4889, weighing at 21 billion solar masses. It was much larger than OJ 287’s 18 billion solar mass black hole and NGC 1277’s 17 billion solar mass black hole.

  12. Christian

    August 17, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Wait… Ceres is 25% the mass of the asteroid belt but the asteroid belt put together is only 2.5 times the size of Ceres? Wouldn’t that mean Ceres is 250% the mass of the asteroid belt?

  13. cecil

    August 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    A man takes a ping pong ball from a dust free room and throws it into the air. He catches it on its return and find that it has gathered dust and a little insect. He then takes a million ping pong balls from the dust free room and throws them in the air and wonders to himself will there be dust and insects on them. OF COURSE THERE IS LIFE OUT THERE!

    • Sergio manzoratte

      November 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      What difference does it make if there is life out there or not there is life HERE is nt it nd look what we are doing with it

  14. Gavin Sidhu

    July 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    The largest thing discovered in science is the Great Sloan Wall, a filament. It’s about 1 billion light years from us and is many light years in diameter.

    • Arunim Havelia

      June 3, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      1.4 billion ly
      Cosmic web-16 billion ly

  15. Husaan Shabendri

    September 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    The cosmic web cannot be the biggest, right? Because we cannot be sure of its size.

    • jackie

      September 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      According to Wikipedia, the Cosmic Web was shaped according to the web-like distribution of Dark Matter after the Big Bang ~ those strings of Dark Matter attracted other matter, thereby eventually creating huge walls (or filaments) of galaxy clusters and super clusters.

      The largest Wall [found so far] is called the Hercules–Corona Borealis Great Wall, which is 10 billion LYs across and contains billions of galaxies.

      Such walls & filaments align and overlap and no doubt extend into areas of space we cannot study.

the Cosmic Web is presumed to reach the furthest edges of our Universe, but we don’t know if it does. If it is prevented from reaching those outer edges by some type of membrane, that membrane could be the biggest thing in our Universe. However, of all the things we can see, the Cosmic Web is the biggest.

      • Bob

        December 7, 2016 at 1:53 pm

        I don’t deny the big bang but I don’t believe it happened either.

  16. jackie

    September 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I am amazed by the “Huge-LQG”… any theories as to why so many quasars are in one place? 

    And where in our observable universe is that place?

    • Charles Lowy

      February 23, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      And Jesus Christ is far greater in size than all these objects combined,
      and I’m not even mentioning objects yet or perhaps never to be discovered.
      And one more thing: Everything discussed had a beginning and shall have
      an end, The Kingdom of God is forever and forever dwarfs everything else.

  17. Sayfool333

    October 16, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    “If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space” Carl Sagan – Contact.

  18. Edwin

    November 15, 2016 at 9:28 am

    One thing im sure about. If a alíen race, with a super advance technology (like space travel, ect) find us, they are not going to be bother with us. They dont have to. They can have anything in space. For them, we are like monkeys. I know some people think that with their tecnology we are easy prey, sitting ducks but I think that they did not avance to the point of space travel by being hostil and agresive.

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