This picture is fake. Or rather, it's a composite of a real picture of the Moon and a real picture of the Andromeda Galaxy, but they've been pasted together in Photoshop or something. What's not fake is that this is the view we'd actually get if Andromeda was bright enough to compete with the Moon in the sky. Spectacular, right?
What's more incredible is the scale of what we'd be looking at: Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away, and it's made up of something like a trillion stars. That's over twice as many as we've got here in the Milky Way, and we haven't even been able to make it past our own Moon in person. The other thing to consider is that if the Milky Way probably has billions of habitable exoplanets, Andromeda probably has billions more. How unlikely is alien life? Super duper unlikely, but there are just so many planets out there (probably) that when you're looking at Andromeda, there are decent odds that you're looking at the home galaxy of a whole bunch of aliens of all different species. We'll never meet any of them (again, probably), which might be a good thing, because they're likely way, way more advanced than we are. And they probably don't give two shakes about our boring little planet or tiny little immature civilization, to say nothing about any of us personally.
So, welcome to the year 2014, an arbitrary figure representing an insignificant number of years that have passed on a rather dull little planet inhabited by a variety of primitive species, and please enjoy these happy thoughts that we've left you with.
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