What’s The Brightest Thing In the Universe?
What’s The Brightest Thing In the Universe?

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. This symbol, commonly called a Yin Yang symbol, is a taijitu meaning diagram of the supreme ultimate. The principal of Yin and yang, opposites existing in
harmony, is associated with ancient Chinese
philosophy. But the very first use of the iconography,
the classic symbol, actually comes from a shield pattern
used by the ancient Romans seven hundred years before its first known use in China.
A connection between the two has yet to be found.
Regardless of who came up with it first, the symbol was a bright idea.
But what’s the brightest object in the entire universe? Well, apparent magnitude. Commonly used when stargazing refers to
how bright an object appears to us, say, when looking up from Earth. It depends on Earth-centric factors,
like how close the object is to our planet. Magnitudes are logarithmic and arranged like golf, where a smaller number means a greater brightness. But today I’m looking for absolute magnitude, a measure of how bright things all over
the universe near and far would be if we looked at them
from the same distance. Absolute magnitude will guide
us to the most blinding light in the universe, irrespective of it looking faint to us here on Earth, just because it’s far away. The difference is significant. A 100-watt light bulb placed closer than 8 centimetres – about
3 inches – from your eye will appear brighter than the Sun in the sky. But that’s not fair. If you could see the Sun and the bulb from the same distance, the Sun would be
a septillion times brighter. That’s bright. But the Sun shines punily compared to the rest of the cosmos. If you could line the Sun up with
everything else out there, giving every star and cosmological
phenomenon a fair chance, the Sun’s absolute magnitude would be 4.8. Not bad. But check out R136a1. This nuclear fuelled beast isn’t the biggest star in terms of volume but it’s 256 times more massive than our Sun.
It’s the most massive star ever found and it’s also the brightest. Remember that lower absolute
magnitudes are brighter. R136a1 isn’t 4.8, like our Sun, it is -12.6, which means it is 8.7 million times brighter than our own Sun. But R136a1 isn’t the brightest thing out there.
When a giant star dies, it explodes violently in what is known as a supernova or hypernova. As I mentioned in my video ‘How Hot Can It Get?’,
supernovas can eject terrifying flashes of radiation known as gamma ray bursts.
Arguably, the brightest electromagnetic events in
the universe. A typical gamma-ray burst releases as much energy in a few seconds as our Sun will release altogether in its entire 10 billion year lifetime. If WR104, a gamma-ray burst future candidate, directly struck Earth with such a beam for only 10 seconds astronomers predict it could deplete 25% of our ozone layer and lead to mass extinction and starvation. The largest thermonuclear bomb ever detonated didn’t do anything close to that and it
was exploded right here, in our atmosphere. Whereas WR104 is eight thousand light years away.
You can’t even see it with your naked eye or a pair of binoculars.
But gamma ray bursts are merely brief events lasting only a few minutes at most, sometimes just a matter of milliseconds. If you want the brightest sustained thing, you’ll paradoxically have to look at the darkest thing. Black holes. To be fair, dark matter is ostensibly darker. But because dark matter has been hypothesized to not even interact with light, with electromagnetism at all, calling dark matter “not bright” is kind of like calling your peanut butter sandwich “a not fast airplane”.
It’s not really even in the same category. Black holes, however, do interact with light; reflecting so little, well, they don’t let any escape, at least not in a form resembling the way it came in. That’s dark. But the intense energies created by
black holes in the process of eating things like stars is anything but dark.
Gas and debris from the stars they eat swirl into arcipluvian cosmic gallows known as accretion discs before making their final death plunge
into the black hole. In the disc, debris spins at unfathomable
speeds, pulled around by a black hole billions of times more massive than our Sun.
Friction in the accretion disk generates heat on a level difficult to fully appreciate. Just as hot things glow, the disk does too. So brightly it has its own name. A quasar.
Quasars shine thousands of times more brightly than even the brightest stars. I’m kidding, it’s scarier than that.
Quasars shine thousands of times more brightly than galaxies containing billions of stars. The first identified quasar, 3C 273,
has an absolute magnitude of -26.7, making it four trillion times brighter than our Sun, about 100 times more luminous than the
total amount of light produced by the entire Milky Way. If you put 3C 273 33 light years away from us it would
shine as brightly as our Sun – a mere 8 light minutes away.
Blocking the brightness of a quasar with the corona graph reveals that quasars exist in the
centers of galaxies that are larger than them in area, but are, nonetheless, drowned out by their light. Such galactic centres are called active galactic nuclei. The bulk of their energy spewing forth
in the form of a powerful radiation jet, the length of which puts even our solar system to shame.
The visible part of the jet in this photograph, for instance, is so
long it could stretch from the Sun to Pluto and back, one-and-a-half million times. Now, specifically, if a large portion of
this ajected energy heads toward Earth, it’s responsible for what we call a quasar. But if Earth is right and the active
galactic nucleus’ sights, it’s got a scarier name: a blazar. And it’s blazar 3C 454.3 that clocked
in the greatest brightness ever observed.
At historically high levels of activity it registered in absolute magnitude of -31.4. To put the brightness of quasars in yet another perspective, take a look
at the one hundred thousandth picture snapped by the Hubble telescope. This is a star a few hundred light years away. And this thing looks just about as bright, but it is a quasar. 9 billion light years away. Why are quasars so far away? Well, a quasar is not forever. They are billions of light years away, which means the light we receive from
them, the pictures we take of them, are pictures of things happening
billions of years ago. They represent a phenomenon more common early in the universe’s history, when
monster black holes hadn’t eaten all the stars around them to fuel their
accretion discs and before those holes became too fat to be active. Neil deGrasse Tyson points out that in order to remain a quasar producer, a black hole must consume about 10 stars a year. Many consume more than a thousand stars a year, 600 Earths worth of matter every single minute. The more stars a black hole consumes,
the larger its event horizon becomes until, eventually, it no longer shreds stars apart to fuel an accretion disc.
Instead, it just swallows them whole in one dimmer, but still terrifying, gulp. Quasars are some of the most
ancient things in our universe. If you could teleport instantaneously to one right now faster than light, it would most likely
no longer be burning. What we see are just their ghosts. Light that left when they were active that traveled longer than they could live. But quasars can still be born. They can even be born right here, in fact. In my video ‘What Will We Miss?’ I pointed out that
the Andromeda Galaxy is headed our way. In 3 to 5 billion years it will collide with our own galaxy, the Milky Way. And the collision could rearrange stars near the
galaxy’s central black holes to be consumed, reigniting a quasar right here, in our galactic backyard. Funny enough, right now very few of us even see Andromeda, even though all you
need is your unaided eye. Light from our cities drowns out the night sky like a quasar drowns out its host galaxy. Artist
Thierry Cohen mocked up what big cities would look like if all their lights were off and the sky above them could be seen fully. New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Los Angeles. It’s beautiful and rare. In the 1990s, during a blackout in the city of Los Angeles,
a number of residence actually called the police they were
afraid of mysterious glowing clouds hovering above the city. They were seeing our galaxy for the first time in their lives. At night, artificial lights allow us to see what’s around us but we lose what’s above us. The brightest places have the darkest, emptiest skies. There’s Yin and Yang again. A taijitu
has actually been lurking in this video the entire time. The brightest things in the universe, quasars, are caused by the darkest things in the universe – black holes. The process that unshackles the most light is caused by the thing that best imprisons it. And as always, thanks for watching.

90 thoughts on “What’s The Brightest Thing In the Universe?”

  1. Colin Hagen says:

    What's The Brightest Thing In the Universe? *Talks About YING YANG*

  2. Travis Dougherty says:

    5:15 looks like sonic as a fetus

  3. Tire and Wheel Master says:

    brightest thing in the universe? the reflection of the sun off anything chrome in your car when you wake up in the morning still trying to adjust then it hits your eyes.

  4. Linus Ahlberg says:

    But if we jus say black holes did not trap light, how bright would they be?

  5. Freddie Leaf says:

    The sun is for me. You guys are idiots.

  6. demonetized says:

    Rip quasars 😢

  7. Abd El Rahman Noshy says:

    No thank u for these great ,fascinating and satisfying❤❤

  8. فهد says:

    I love you and I watch you chanal (from Saudi Arabia ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️)

  9. JAK says:

    Best video you have made,mindblowing,thanks

  10. Frezi says:

    Phone screen in the morning.

  11. faihoma anzal says:

    Very interesting video by the way here is a video that I found he show the brightest things from candle to quasar. It is in Arabic but I can understand it if you wish I can ask for the English subtitle…. keep in mind that this channel will have other interesting videos soon https://youtu.be/5abDBvoI0cI

  12. FridgePizza says:

    The brightest thing is when your sleeping and your mom opens the shutters at the middle of the day

  13. Phi says:

    What a great intro

  14. uwuweweweonytinewewewe ugbemugbwe ossas says:

    How can we have pictures of the milky way

  15. SCIENCE ETC says:

    I love how he stuffs so much information into a shorter video.

  16. Benji Altman says:

    Honest question here. What would the "absolute" magnitude of the cosmic microwave background be? I realize that it isn't very bright, but if we consider that it traveled over 13 billion light-years to get here, how bright would it have been "up close"?

  17. Asian Dumpling says:

    The brightest substance should,where blind people could even see it

  18. Pigeon 56 says:

    We all know that the brightest thing in the universe is when you open your phone in the middle of the night

  19. J T says:

    My brain hurts

  20. Ed Me says:

    A white hole is the brightest object.

  21. Carlos Silva says:

    What is the brightest thing in the universe?

    A black hole

    Wait.. no

  22. Azure says:

    10:00 pm: Top 30 Noscopes in PUBG (Shroud)
    1:00 am: I summoned the Wither boss in Minecraft (Pewdiepie)
    3:00am: What's The Brightest Thing in the Universe? (VSAUCE)
    Finally, some good shit to watch at 3:00 am.

  23. Verdant says:

    He took a minute explaining yin’s and yang to build up to the words “Bright idea”

  24. Team G says:

    What’s the brightest thing, Mike’s forehead

  25. Neo Joto says:

    How did we go from who created the yin yang to the brightest thing in the universe in less then a second

  26. Carter Johnson says:

    What about us scuti

  27. Geoffrey Waldo says:

    Raises more questions than he answers. That is a good thing.

  28. Novark Ngood says:

    The hottest thing in the universe is your face when your mam catches you wanking

  29. Natile 139 says:

    Solar Flare

  30. Amaan Hassan says:

    wait……it's a yin-yang symbol made by God!!!!!! 11:22

  31. mr.spoon full of apples says:

    If you think this stuff is bright try waking up in the middle of the night to discover you left your phone on at full brightness and burn your eyeballs

  32. Shiva S says:

    Wrong!! The brightest thing is your phone screen when u try to see the time at the middle of the night .. that's blinding!

  33. adnan ahmed says:

    We need this kind of videos. Not those on ding.

  34. MSM - AITEK says:

    2:58 The Mozilla Firefox dead star

  35. UwU - says:

    When you open your phone at 3 am

  36. Angel Chavez Heredia says:

    Whut if all galaxys Circle a huge black hole

  37. Raffael says:

    Me reading the title: well not my future

  38. yans cult says:

    deez nuts

  39. patrikgamerplazs says:

    0:42 0:44 that got from 1 to 100 real quick

  40. AsianBourne says:

    We know the anwser already, Michael

    Its your forehead

  41. AI Johan Gerrison Bot says:

    The brightest thing in the Universe is simply just any source of light magnified – which will reveal the exact same light that as was present during the very initial moment of the Big Bang… 🙂

    "Every piece of the puzzle contains a (holographic and fractal) picture of the whole in its entirety.

    Everything is One." 🌌

  42. Ayananta Chowdhury says:

    An absolute genius of a video!

  43. CCBear playz says:

    Well his forehead is pretty bright.idk

  44. Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ says:

    boi, i dont nov abutt The Brightest Thing In the Universe
    butt im sure the brightest thing In the earth iz money
    in ur premium mind field


    and i like this dark wave too 3:40
    its like a black hole theme..
    please be silent for 40 seconds I want to enjoy this beautiful piece

  45. pizzapizze Kench says:

    haha nice intro

  46. Aaron Robertson says:

    google search … how to cause a blackout?

  47. Itchy Scratchy says:

    Yin-Yang = Bullshit

  48. Shuru says:

    I watch Vsauce video for one specific thing but learn the meaning of life, where Malaysia flight 370 is, and where alien life is

  49. Ethan Gilford says:

    Alright then…….. that was trippy.

  50. Rittik tiwari says:


  51. R3DF0X_X_X says:

    I think that Andromeda already collided with the milky way but we can’t see it because it takes so long for the light to reach us

  52. Charkit says:

    Have you ever set fire to magnesium? Bright stuff I'll tell ya' that.

  53. SHOTGUN says:

    What about the kugelblitz

  54. ツ IᑕᕼᗷIᑎᕮIᑎᕼᗩᑎS says:

    The brightest thing is when you stand up while night and turn on your handy.

  55. Sepia Smith says:

    the concept that we are seeing the past — BILLIONS of years into the past — simply because light travels too "slow" just. stops me in my tracks.

  56. Sepia Smith says:

    11:34 okay now that's cool

  57. hybrid gamer says:

    This video game me some serious chills down my spine

  58. LFT Raz says:

    Your future 🙂

    Edit: i just realized I'm not the first person to think of this 🙁

  59. lolnope 64 says:

    could in any condition, light travel slightly faster than c? is c even the fastest speed of light? do i even know what I'm talking about?

  60. Michael McCormick says:

    When I was a kid a cop caught me shooting out street lights with an air rifle.l told him l couldn't see the milky way because of light pollution. He wasn't impressed.

  61. Michael McCormick says:

    When I was a kid a cop caught me shooting out street lights with an air rifle.l told him l couldn't see the milky way because of light pollution. He wasn't impressed.

  62. Finlay Hamm says:

    4:40 he was gonna say penis

  63. Paul ofTarsus says:

    the girl at the end was kugelblitz

  64. Dr Dang says:

    The brightest thing in the world is your phone when your friend texts you at 3:00 am

  65. weebie says:

    Discord light theme

  66. Nicholle Gillian says:

    An xyz explosion 💥 witch is devastating

  67. Nicholle Gillian says:

    WHOA 😯

  68. Nicholle Gillian says:

    I’m not sure

  69. S. G. says:

    Clueless citizens see our Galaxy and get frightened cause they think they're looking at ghosts

    Me: Do you are have stupid?

  70. Thies Kawang says:

    hey michael vsauce u r genius, thank u for making us smart, very cool

  71. Luc Enden says:

    I always thought the brightest thing in the universe was my cell phone turning on in the middle of the night

  72. 예수쟁이 says:

    (KJV)(John 1:3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    (KJV)(Hebrews 3:4) For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
    (KJV)(Psalms 14:1) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There
    is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

    (KJV)(Hebrews 9:27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment
    (KJV)(Revelation 21:8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers,
    and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
    (KJV)(Mark 9:44) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

  73. Undyingsquirrel says:

    I still can’t believe Micheal got away with making two videos with the question phrased differently

  74. The Dragon says:

    4:35 I'm sorry what????? XD

  75. Ian East says:

    I completely fail to see your analogy between brightness, golf, and logarithmic scales. You could have compared brightness to other logarithmic scales like earthquakes, sound, etc… Maybe you could have even thrown in a demonstration of how light is diluted exponentially as it emanates from a point into a sphere. But please explain to me how golf has anything to do with this. I'm guessing that you're saying that negative is better but golf is a linear scale this makes no sense.

  76. Michael Mamba15 says:

    Wow….we ain’t shit

  77. Anir-Amgalan Bataa says:

    Better segues than LinusTechTips

  78. light man says:

    Cosmic Blazar Dragon

  79. Transfinity Comparisons says:

    well, that quasar cant be 9 billion light-years away because our planet is 4.6 billion years old so its light wouldn't reach us for 4.4 billion years.

  80. Sad Sama says:

    Hey Vsauce, michael here
    Your peanut butter is an airplane jet
    And as always, thanks for watching.

  81. justjessking006 says:

    The brightest thing in the universe is Michael’s personality.

  82. ezum says:

    3. Quasar
    2. Blazar
    1. My skin

  83. Sunset Fox says:

    A few residents CALLED THE POLICE BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARED OF THE GALAXIES IN THE SKY? That is actually the stupidest thing I’ve heard ANYONE freak out about 🤦‍♀️ 🤦‍♀️ 🤦‍♀️

  84. Pablo Banderas jr says:

    Vsauce simplemente es impresionante tu trabajo de investigación y conocimiento.
    Todo es relativo

  85. G4Tanus says:

    This is such a powerful video, just looking up at the Sky, there are billions of stars, galaxies, quasars, and many more, that we can’t see.

  86. PMGG says:

    How do microwaves work

    So when the dinosaurs

  87. ejijojo says:

    從沒聽過一個外國人正確發出 "陰陽" 的音

  88. Teenu Cheenu says:

    Top quality shit.

  89. Isaiah Abbott says:

    Not my future 😂

  90. Michael Lombard says:

    I love all these visuals of black holes. When we finally got a picture of one and Hawking has been telling us for years they give off light i.e. Hawking radiation. To see such amazing visual aids to such unfathomable stuff for our tiny mammalian brains is so helpful. Im a visual learner and the true scale of the cosmos is at the limits of human abstraction. Even for the best of us! Im a very abstract person, and thinker but cosmology and i suppose quantum mechanics by definition, really tests ones ability to imagine such a thing, or parts of the universe we cants see but technically know are there. I dont know. Im no physicist. But i love your content and you deserve all your success. Its takes so much time to make a video like this even with many people doing it. The moments like when you show everest and zoom out to a cross section of the earth. Thats the only way to properly appreciate stuff like that. Saying roughly 5.5 miles is the height of Everest and around 7 miles deep is the Mariana trench, compared to an earth 24,901 miles in circumference is near impossible to visualize. But stuff like that is true! The earth is smooth as hell if you were a space giant and came along to pick it up. Like a moist marble. Anyways. Great stuff as always! the space content is my favorite.

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