The universe is vast. That much is well known. However, as our abilities to decipher and explore its vastness keep increasing, ironically, the less we appear to know about its size. Recent data from Hubble and other telescopes has come to light according to which, if we had a term that could exceed “unimaginably” we would definitely be using it in the universe’s context.
Astronomers have finally managed to compile the most accurate census of the galaxies in the universe. And no, we still don’t know the total number of galaxies in out Universe. All we know is, that our previous estimates fell significantly short of the actual number.
According to our latest and most accurate estimates to date, the part of universe that is observable to us contains around one to two trillion galaxies (Galaxies not stars) which around 10 to 20 times the previous best estimate of 100 billion galaxies. So, on an average, we have around 700 sextillion stars available and open for exploration. To save you the trouble of searching for Sextillion and then be utterly confused while trying to count the number of zeros Google throws up, 1 Sextillion equals 1 followed by 23 zeros.
In other words, the universe contains around 700 thousand billion billion stars. Bamboozled yet? Wait until you get a load of this.
If the number of stars was astounding, what will you do if I told you that it is still not the total number of stars in our universe. The Universe came into being around 14 Billion years ago — through Big bang or the creation or whatever tale you want to believe in. Going by that figure, our earth is much more recent. As such, light from many reaches of the universe have yet to each us. And we can only see an object — stars and galaxies included — when light, or some other kind of radiation emanating from it reaches us.
So basically, we are able to observe stuff only in a certain sphere around our infinitely minuscule (in the scheme of things) planet. This sphere like shape is known as the Hubble Bubble. Anything outside this bubble is invisible because light from there hasn’t reached us yet. Understandably, the bubble is constantly expanding with time.
Speaking on the topic, Christopher Conselice, University of Nottingham, UK, said
It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied. Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we discover these galaxies with future generations of telescopes?
And unless I am wrong, the chances of there being other habitable worlds in the Universe have probably gone up as well.
Meanwhile, I need to spend some serious time in contemplation. At present though, these number have sent me into a state of existential depression. See you later, puny, fellow earthlings.