It’s often very difficult for people with a mild interest in astronomy to understand how vast the universe it. It just got a little harder.
Scientists are saying the universe actually contains 3 times as many starts as they thought it did.
From the BBC:
Astronomers say the Universe may contain three times the number of stars as is currently thought.
Their assessment is based on new observations showing other galaxies may have very different structures to our Milky Way galaxy.
The researchers tell the journal Nature that more stars probably means many more planets as well – perhaps “trillions” of Earth-like worlds.
The Yale University-led study used the Keck telescope in Hawaii.
It found that galaxies older than ours contain 20 times more red dwarf stars than more recent ones.
Red dwarfs are smaller and dimmer than our own Sun; it is only recently that telescopes have been powerful enough to detect them.
According to Yale’s Professor Pieter van Dokkum, who led the research, the discovery also increases the estimate for the number of planets in the Universe and therefore greatly increases the likelihood of life existing elsewhere in the cosmos.
“There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars,” he said. “Red dwarfs are typically more than 10 billion years old and so have been around long enough for complex life to evolve on planets around them. It’s one reason why people are interested in this type of star.”