#3. A Supermassive Black Hole, Sent Screaming Through Space by a Galactic Slingshot
If you find yourself one day piloting a starship around the universe, there are certain combinations of words that you just don't want to hear from your co-pilot. Somewhere around the top of that list would be "supermassive," "black hole," and "moving at 3 million miles per hour." But that just happens to describe the situation in the CID-42 system, where scientists have seen two galaxies team up to slingshot a huge-ass black hole right the hell out into space at an impossible speed. Here's a computer simulation of how the scientists think it went down:
That white dot tear-assing its way out of frame in the final moments is the black hole being shot into space like a spitball, probably at another galaxy that these two don't like very much.
Keep in mind, a supermassive black hole is millions or even billions of times more massive than the Sun, so the forces required to fire one like a bullet are vast and unfathomable.
The phenomenon could only be detected based on evidence gleaned from the scene of the crash. The very nature of a black hole is that you can't possibly see it, not even if it's a foot in front of your face. Of course, if it's a foot in front of your face, you are already incredibly dead. That's arguably the good news -- if a nearby galaxy decides to do this to us, we won't even know to panic.
#2. An Actual Shooting Star
We assume you all know that when you see a "shooting star" streaking across the night sky, you're not really talking about a star, but a meteorite, which is a lot less impressive. A star is of course billions of times bigger, and as such it doesn't really "shoot" so much as it just kind of sits there and sparkles. When a star does actually decide to "shoot," shit gets real.
And it does happen -- for instance, apparently nobody told Mira how to behave like a decent star, because it decided to just piss off out of there in search of a more fun corner of the galaxy.
And if nature isn't a heartless bitch, it'll start engulfing planets like a cosmic game of Pac-Man.
Mira is a red giant star at the end of its life, and rather than die quietly, it's opted to go out in the most spectacular blaze of glory imaginable, driving its Cadillac through the galaxy at an incredible 291,000 miles per hour, with a trunk full of mescaline and nothing to lose. It's moving fast enough to create a comet-like tail, but unlike a comet, this one is 13 light-years long.
The amazing thing is that the material that Mira is shedding into the void will go on to create more stars and planets in the far future. That's right -- it's star jizz, which it is indiscriminately spraying in every direction as it streaks to its own doom. Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly how everyone should die.
#1. A Massive Mystery Force Beyond Our Universe
Just when you think they can't find any more terrifying things in the universe, astronomers go ahead and trump themselves. Apparently, there's something unfathomably massive just beyond the borders of our visible universe. We can't see what it is, but we know it's there, because it's dragging parts of the universe into it like water swirling around a drain.
Yeah, but just the shitty parts of the universe.
All you need to understand about this diagram of the night sky from NASA is that the big colored chunks are being sucked toward something so far away that we can't see it, and so powerful that nothing we know about the universe already can account for it. Scientists call it dark flow, because it was the only name that sounded ominous enough.
So what is this dark flow? Some astronomers think that it might be some unknown, exotic megastructure cast off in the first moments of the Big Bang. Others think that it might be the edge of another universe pushing up against ours. Still others think that this is probably a bunch of baloney that better science will eventually smooth out. In any case, we're once again hanging on to the belief that H.P. Lovecraft might have been right.
For more reasons to be terrified of the unknown, check out 5 Cosmic Events That Could Kill You Before Lunch and 7 Horrible Ways The Universe Can Destroy Us Without Warning.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Creepiest Pillow Commercial Ever.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why discharging firearms at space is a bad idea.
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