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What is the Universe?

Microscope with a circle beside it with two amoebas and drops of water showing how the amoebas look through a microscope.
The Universe is a big, open place. You are in the Universe. Things you can't see are in it, too. The biggest stars are in it. Even the smallest things on Earth are part of the Universe. We don't even know how big the Universe is!

Image to right: Amoebas live on Earth. They are in the Universe. They are very small. You can only see them with a microscope. Credit: NASA

Scientists study the Universe. They look at the stars and planets. They are called astronomers. They want to find out the size of the Universe. They don't know the answer, yet. But, they do know it is still growing.

The Universe started long ago. It is still getting bigger today. We do not know if it will stop. Will it change directions? Or, will it keep going forever?

The Milky Way galaxy with a bright center circle with arms that curl off and are spotted with points of light.
Image to left: Our Sun and our solar system are in the Milky Way galaxy. It is part of the big Universe. Credit: NASA


Adapted from The Universe

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Editor: Shelley Canright
NASA Official: Brian Dunbar
Last Updated: July 16, 2004
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