I didn't feel like sleeping, so I entertained myself with this little project.
These are the Pillars of Creation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_creation
I divided the picture so that every square is (roughly) equal to one AU (Astronomical Unit, or the distance from the Earth to the Sun). Since the left-most pillar is about four light-years in length from top to bottom, that means it has a length of 250 AU.
So if I did my job right, there should be 250 little squares there.
I love journeys into unfathomable scales. It's just such a wonder that we can look up and see something like this. This is no more real than we are. If anything it is more real, as they were there long before us.
And yet, they are no longer there!!!
The Pillars of Creation no longer exist. In 2007, astronomers announced that they were destroyed about 6,000 years ago by the shock wave from a supernova. Because of the limited speed of light, the shock wave's approach to the pillars can currently be seen from Earth, but their actual destruction will not be visible for another millennium.
Where is the fish!? :)
Gives you a marvelous 3D journey inside the pillars of creation. The humbling thing is that as you swoop around all groovy-like the back of your head says "in order for me to experience any change in perspective at all I would have to be travelling many times the speed of light, in which case I couldn't see this, therefore my perspective is literally impossible."
...which is why I'm afraid I have to share with you that you did your job wrong.
The far pillar is 4 light years. 1 AU is the distance from the earth to the sun - or 8.3 light minutes.
4 light years is about 253,000 light minutes, or AU.
In other words, you're off by three orders of magnitude.
Lemme put it another way. At the bottom end of your line would be earth. Somewhere near that top white star, the 2nd one, would be Alpha Centauri A and B.
Each box is 1000 AU, so inside each box we would have, roughly, the same distance as:
Plus, Carl Sagan explaining what would happen if we travelled at the speed of light. http://youtu.be/lPoGVP-wZv8
500,000 trips to the moon 34 trips from Earth to Neptune 8 Voyager 1 missions as of February 2012.
Now that's a lotta crackers.