Scientists working on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope project have increased the estimated number of galaxies in the universe by a factor of 10, the Space Telescope Science Institute has announced.
Verifying the number of galaxies that the universe contains is “one of the most fundamental questions in astronomy,” the STScI explained, and a new analysis of data retrieved from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observations increases that number dramatically.
It had previously been thought that there were 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe, but a team led by Nottingham University’s Christopher Conselice used images converted into 3D, and new mathematical models that allowed them to make inferences beyond the capabilities of contemporary telescope technology.
That number now stands at 2 trillion.
“Why is the sky dark at night if the universe contains an infinity of stars?” the STScI asked on hubblesite.org.
“There actually is such an abundance of galaxies that, in principle, every patch in the sky contains part of a galaxy.
However, starlight from th[ose] galaxies is invisible to the human eye and most modern telescopes.”
Conselice looked forward to the next generation of astronomy equipment: “In the near future, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to study these ultra-faint galaxies,” he said.