An Illustrated Map of Every Known Object in Space: Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Black Holes & Much More

Name all the things in space in 20 min­utes. Impos­si­ble, you say? Well, if there’s any­one who might come close to sum­ma­riz­ing the con­tents of the uni­verse in less than half an hour, with the aid of a handy info­graph­ic map also avail­able as a poster, it’s physi­cist Dominic Wal­li­man, who has explored oth­er vast sci­en­tif­ic regions in con­densed, yet com­pre­hen­sive maps on physics, math­e­mat­ics, chem­istry, biol­o­gy, and com­put­er sci­ence.

These are all aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines with more or less defined bound­aries. But space? It’s poten­tial­ly end­less, a point Wal­li­man grants up front. Space is “infi­nite­ly big and there are an infi­nite num­ber of things in it,” he says. How­ev­er, these things can still be named and cat­e­go­rized, since “there are not an infi­nite num­ber of dif­fer­ent kinds of things.” We begin at home, so to speak, with the Earth, our Sun, the solar sys­tem (and a dog), and the plan­ets: ter­res­tri­al, gas, and ice giant.

Aster­oids, mete­ors, comets, dwarf plan­ets, moons, the Kuyper Belt, Dort Cloud, and helios­phere, cos­mic dust, black holes…. We’re only two min­utes in and that’s a lot of things already—but it’s also a lot of kinds of things, and those kinds repeat over and over. The super­mas­sive black hole at the cen­ter of the Milky Way may be a type rep­re­sent­ing a whole class of things “at the cen­ter of every galaxy.”

The uni­verse might con­tain an infi­nite num­ber of stars—or a num­ber so large it might as well be infi­nite. But that doesn’t mean we can’t extrap­o­late from the com­par­a­tive­ly tiny num­ber we’re able to observe as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of gen­er­al star behav­ior: from the “main sequence stars”—Red, Orange, and Yel­low Dwarves (like our sun)—to blue giants to vari­able stars, which pul­sate and change in size and bright­ness.

Mas­sive Red Giants explode into neb­u­lae at the end of their 100 mil­lion to 2 bil­lion year lives. They also, along with Red and Orange Dwarf stars, leave behind a core known as a White Dwarf, which will become a Black Dwarf, which does not exist yet because the uni­verse it not old enough to have pro­duced any. “White dwarves,” Wal­li­man says, “will be the fate of 97% of the stars in the uni­verse.” The num­ber of kinds of stars expands, we get into the dif­fer­ent shapes galax­ies can take, and learn about cos­mic radi­a­tion and “mys­ter­ies.”

This project does not have the scope to include expla­na­tions of how we know about these many kinds of space objects, but Wal­li­man does an excel­lent job of turn­ing what may be the biggest pic­ture imag­in­able into a thumbnail—or poster-sized (pur­chase here, down­load here)—out­line of the uni­verse. We can­not ask more from a twen­ty-minute video promis­ing to name “Every Kind of Thing in Space.”

See oth­er sci­ence-defin­ing video maps, all writ­ten, researched, ani­mat­ed, edit­ed, and scored by Wal­li­man, at the links below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Map of Physics: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Physics Fit Togeth­er

The Map of Math­e­mat­ics: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Math Fit Togeth­er

The Map of Chem­istry: New Ani­ma­tion Sum­ma­rizes the Entire Field of Chem­istry in 12 Min­utes

The Map of Biol­o­gy: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Biol­o­gy Fit Togeth­er

The Map of Com­put­er Sci­ence: New Ani­ma­tion Presents a Sur­vey of Com­put­er Sci­ence, from Alan Tur­ing to “Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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