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# Earth Day: Scale the planet and go beyond, take this train journey

## But that's just a figure. The point is, have you ever wondered exactly how long that is physically?

world Updated: Apr 22, 2015 21:33 IST
Across-planets-and-stars-aboard-the-Himsagar-express

You get zero marks for knowing that the earth’s circumference is around 40,000 km.

But that's just a figure. The point is, have you ever wondered exactly how long that is physically? Do you know how small we are when compared to other celestial bodies? Merely jotting down the sizes won't bring out the difference.

With the world observing the 'Earth Day' on Wednesday, let's board the Himsagar Express train to compare the sizes of some of the biggest planets and stars in this universe to our planet.

The Himsagar express runs the length of the country from Jammu Tawi to Kanyakumari, traversing a distance of about 3,700 km in approximately three days. Its average speed is 50km an hour.

So, the train can circumscribe the world (40,075km) in 33.5 days – theoretically travelling 11 times the distance between Jammu and Kanyakumari.

Let’s now try to imagine the circumferences of some planets and stars, while using the distance between Jammu and Kanyakumari and the time taken by the Himsagar Express as our measuring scales.

(Source: Wikicommons)

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system with a circumference of 4,49,200km which translates to about 121.5 times the distance between Jammu and Kanyakumari or a year of travelling on the Himsagar Express around the circumference.

Sun’s circumference is around 43,79,000km. It’s 1,183 times the distance between Jammu and Kanyakumari or 10 years of travelling around it at an average speed of 50km an hour.

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, has a circumference of 74,73,203 km, which is 2,020 times the Jammu-Kanyakumari distance. It would take 17 years to travel around it aboard the Himsagar Express.

Aldebaran, the brightest star in the Taurus constellation, has a 19,30,54,108km long circumference which is around 52,176 times the Jammu-Kanyakumari distance. It would take Himsagar express 440 years to travel around this giant star.

Betelgeuse, the ninth brightest star visible from earth, has a circumference of 51,53,933,200km. It is 13,92,955 times the distance between Jammu and Kanyakumari or 11,767 years of travelling on Himsagar Express.

KY Cygni, a red supergiant star located in the Cygnus constellation, with a circumference around 6,20,52,40,620km. The Himsagar Express would take 14,160 years or about 141 centuries to complete travelling around this circumference.

And finally, UY Scuti, a red hypergiant star located in the Scutum constellation, the largest star known to humans as of now and its circumference is around 7,46,37,68,294 km. The Himsagar Express would take 17,040 years or about 170 centuries to complete travelling around this circumference.

Let us try to understand the enormity of the size. That means, aboard the Himsagar Express, if we had started at one point of UY Scuti somewhere in 150th century BC then we would have completed one full circle today.

Thus, if you are travelling by the Himsagar Express it will take 33.5 days to go around the earth, while it would take 170 centuries for circumscribing UY Scuti. Get the idea of how small we are?

Let’s us now try to understand how big the universe is. We can, in fact, draw an analogy between the galactic arrangements and our society.

If we consider the earth as our home, then the other planets are our neighbours.

Zooming out, we can see other star systems. If solar system is our neighbourhood, then these are a collection of such neighbourhoods which make our town.

If we go beyond our interstellar town there comes our galaxy - the Milky Way. This would be our district.

If we zoom out beyond the Milky Way district, we can see a group of similar galaxies. This becomes our state.

Further zooming out will takes us to the Virgo supercluster - our country, which is a collection of many galactic states.

Going beyond our country we can see a set of other countries, a set of superclusters similar to ours. This becomes our continent.

Continuing with our analogy, we can say that this collection of such continents (superclusters) is similar to our world.

(Photos from Wikimedia commons)

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• Jan 17, 2018 12:35 IST