The Big Think

January 5, 2014

Like Grains of Sand

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 6:30 am

4 Mind-Blowing Things About Stars: “In 1995, scientists picked out a little section of the night sky that was unusually devoid of stars. To the naked eye, and even in a normal telescope, this region looked empty and black. And the section was tiny—it covered the same amount of sky that a tennis ball would cover if it were 100 meters above you (and the image on the right shows the size of the region in comparison to the size of the moon in the sky at night).

The scientists used the Hubble Telescope to take a 10-day long exposure of the empty region to find out what was out there deep in the blackness. They came back with this:

690958main_p1237a1.jpg

Astonishing.

To be clear, nothing in this photo is a star. Each thing you see—even the faintest little dot—is an entire galaxy. There are over 10,000 in this image, each one containing around 100 billion stars. And again, this is all in a pinpoint little square of the night sky.

Scientists used the info from this photo to postulate that the observable universe contains over 100 billion galaxies, which puts the total stars in the observable universe at somewhere between 10^22 and 10^24, or around 100 sextillion stars.

To put that in perspective, people at the University of Hawaii spent an unreasonable amount of time calculating an estimate for the number of grains of sand in the world—7.5 quintillion or 7.5 x 10^18.

That means that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are about 10,000 stars in the universe.

Silliness.”

For more gobsmackingly amazing facts, read the whole article.

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