What is Bigger Than the Universe?

The universe encompasses every single thing in existence, from the smallest atom to the largest star or galaxy. Everyone and everything on Earth is a part of this universe, although in the grand scheme of things, we are a minuscule part. That being said, what is bigger than the universe?

what is bigger than our universe

How Big Is the Universe?

At this stage of humanity, we’re not even sure how big the universe is. From our planet, we’re only able to see about 46 billion light-years in any one direction. With one light-year in the vicinity of 5.8 trillion miles (9 million kilometers), that’s an absolutely insane distance. Even crazier is that this doesn’t take us to the universe’s edge.

No one knows for sure if the universe even has an end. It could, in theory, go on in all directions in a flat plane forever. Most scientists do believe that the entire universe as we know it once started from a single point.

This diagram depicts the three steps astronomers took to measure the universe's expansion rate with unprecedented precision
This diagram depicts the three steps astronomers took to measure the universe’s expansion rate with unprecedented precision.

Cosmic Origins

Roughly 13.8 billion years ago, that point exploded into a cosmic shockwave that sent particles flying through space at astronomical speeds. Over time, this expansion slowed and allowed stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies to start forming.

Our Solar System is approximately 4.5 billion years old, putting our planet on the scene nearly 10 billion years after the whole thing began.

What Is Inside the Universe?

At best guess, scientists believe there are 200 billion galaxies dotted throughout the universe, with each galaxy containing an average of 100 to 200 billion stars. Many of these stars have the potential for orbiting planets, and these planets have an untold number of moons.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this billowing cloud of cold interstellar gas and dust rising from the Carina Nebula's tempestuous stellar nursery.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this billowing cloud of cold interstellar gas and dust rising from the Carina Nebula’s tempestuous stellar nursery. (Image credit: NASA)

Many other cosmic phenomena also exist within galaxies, such as nebulae, novas, pulsars, quasars, and more. The universe is very dark and void outside of a galaxy, with just a few hydrogen atoms scattered here and there.

Is Anything Bigger Than the Universe?

Since the universe contains every single thing we know to exist, it’s hard to imagine that there would be anything bigger beyond its borders. We’re not even sure that the universe has an end, which is a difficult concept to grasp if we consider it starting from a single point during the Big Bang.

The universe's expansion has been relatively gradual for the majority of its history.
The universe’s expansion has been relatively gradual for the majority of its history. (Image credit: “Time Line of the Universe” by NASA Universe on Flickr CC BY 2.0)

As mentioned earlier, the technology we are currently privy to on Earth lets us see up to 46 billion light-years out into space. Since the universe has been expanding non-stop since its inception, we can only guess how much further it extends beyond that.

Albert Einstein, while reflecting on the folly of humanity, shared this quote about the universe: 

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

As far as humanity can comprehend, there is nothing out there bigger than the universe itself.

The James Webb Telescope

Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket lifts off, carrying NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket lifts off, carrying NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency recently sent the James Webb telescope into space on December 25th, 2021. The telescope will travel roughly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth before reaching its final destination.

Once there, the James Webb telescope will attempt to answer some of these questions plaguing humanity for centuries. Scientists hope to use the telescope to uncover the truth about the Big Bang theory by seeing further into the universe than ever before.

Ideally, the craft will be able to see light from the first stages of the Big Bang, which will help draw better conclusions about the origin and size of the universe. The James Webb telescope will also study how galaxies have evolved over billions of years, the birth of stars, and exoplanets.

Answers to our cosmic questions are closer than ever before.

A rare view of the James Webb Space Telescope face-on
A rare front-on view of the James Webb Space Telescope from the NASA Goddard cleanroom observation window. (Image credit: NASA)

What About the Concept of a Multiverse?

Popular TV series and movies may have you considering the possibility of a multiverse. In essence, the belief is that there are an infinite number of universes stacked on top of one another. Each universe has similarities to our own, but crucial differences make each one unique.

Theoretically, there could even be an infinite number of multiverses, where each multiverse shares a distinct pattern. Those who believe in such a phenomenon have coined this space “the omniverse.”

There’s no credible evidence to support anything existing beyond the universe we’re a part of. That being said, we are constantly discovering new aspects of science and space that we never thought possible at one point in time.

The author of “Unknown Universe,” astronomer Stuart Clark, spoke with Business Insider UK about multiverse theory.

Which is Bigger Cosmos or Universe?

The words cosmos and universe are often synonymously to include everything that currently exists. Where the universe describes everything that exists, the word cosmos has come to mean a complete, orderly, harmonious system that follows natural law.

Final Thoughts

As it stands, the universe is the largest object that we are aware of. There is nothing larger, and everything we can smell, hear, taste, touch, or see is a part of it. From the air we breathe to the most distant star, these objects exist within our universe.

It’s very likely that the universe extends well beyond what we’re able to see at this point in history. We really have no notion of just how big the universe is or if it is even finite at all. With our technology rapidly advancing, we may have the answer sooner than we think.

About Noah Zelvis

Noah is a content writer who has had a love of all things astronomy for as long as he can remember.
When not reaching for the stars, you’ll likely find Noah traveling or running.