Our Universe’s matter, fundamentally, is composed of elementary particles.
But those interacting particles exist within spacetime.
Quarks and gluons bind together, forming protons and neutrons.
Protons and neutrons bind together, making atomic nuclei.
Electrons and nuclei form bound states, creating neutral atoms.
Those atoms can link together, creating molecules in limitless combinations.
Molecular components can assemble to compose living, megafaunal organisms, including human beings.
But an even greater force binds matter together on cosmic scales: gravitation.
With no “negative” gravitational charges, only “positive” mass/energy, gravitation is always attractive.
However, the expanding Universe drives particles with large spatial separations farther apart.
Over time, gravitation collects and collapses neutral gas clouds, forming stars: generation upon generation.
Star clusters grow and merge, forming galaxies, galaxy groups, and rich clusters of galaxies.
Within them, black holes, stellar remnants, new stars, planets, and complex, organic ingredients continually accumulate.
On even grander cosmic scales, filamentary networks and superclusters begin to form.
But dark energy prevents them from remaining stable.
Over time, these pseudostructures are driven apart, breaking the cosmos into lonely, isolated clumps.
Galaxy groups and clusters remain the Universe’s largest stable structures.
Beyond our Local Group, the unbound Universe forever recedes into oblivion.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.