SCIENCE — Earth and Space
Have You Ever Wondered...
- How many stars are in the universe?
- How many galaxies are there in the universe?
- What is the most common type of star in the universe?
Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kayla. Kayla Wonders, “How many stars are there?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kayla!
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Have you ever stared up at the stars in the night sky and wondered how many there are? If sánh, you're not alone. That question has fascinated astronomers, artists, and dreamers of all ages since the beginning of human history.
Famous astronomer Carl Sagan once estimated that there must be “billions upon billions" of stars in the universe. If you've ever tried to lớn count the stars in the night sky, you may have concluded that it would be impossible to lớn count them all.
Guess what? You'd be absolutely right!
Before we get to lớn the mind-boggling estimates that modern astronomers have made, let's start “small" and get some perspective. We live on planet Earth, which orbits around a star we đường dây nóng the Sun.
The Earth and the Sun, along with several other planets, trang điểm a solar system, which is part of a larger grouping of stars called a "galaxy."
Our particular galaxy is known as the Milky Way. Scientists estimate that there are 200 billion to lớn 400 billion — yes, that's billion with a “b" — stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The Sun is just one of those 200 billion to lớn 400 billion stars.
If that blows your mind, just wait! Our Milky Way galaxy is just one of the many galaxies in our universe.
How many? Believe it or not, astronomers estimate there are 100 billion to lớn 200 billion galaxies in the universe, each of which has hundreds of billions of stars.
If your mind is reeling, that's OK. It's hard for most people to lớn imagine the size of the universe. So how many stars are there? In truth, there are too many to lớn count. Current estimates are just guesses.
Even using our most advanced telescopes and technology, we still cannot see to lớn the ends of our universe. Further complicating things, closer stars that are particularly bright also block our ability to lớn see beyond them in certain directions.
Scientists use observations and data we tự have, along with assumptions about our galaxy and the other galaxies in the universe, to lớn estimate the number of stars. Recently, though, some scientists challenged some of the assumptions scientists have been using for years.
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The result? Scientists now believe there may be three times more stars than thở scientists previously estimated.
Why? Astronomers now believe there may be many more red dwarf stars — the most common type of star in the universe — than thở previously thought.
Based on the latest estimates, astronomers estimate our universe could be the trang chính to lớn 300 sextillion stars. Just how many is that? This many:
That's a 3 with 23 zeroes after it. Any way you look at it, that's a lot of stars. As technology improves and we get even better glimpses at the far corners of the universe, we may eventually find that the number of stars is even greater than thở anyone could ever imagine!
Wonder What's Next?
Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow as we exercise our right to lớn không lấy phí speech!
Try It Out
Are you ready to lớn stargaze? Find a friend or family thành viên to lớn help you kiểm tra out the following activities:
- There's no better way to lớn get an appreciation for the size of the universe than thở heading outside after sundown for a little stargazing. Instead of counting the stars, though, try finding some of the constellations. You can print out a sky map to lớn help you.
- If the conditions outside aren't quite right for stargazing or if you simply want to lớn practice indoors first, try this fun Constellation Hunt online game! After a bit of practice recognizing constellations, you can take your skills outdoors.
- Can you wrap your mind around the sheer size of a number lượt thích 300 sextillion? What other things might there be that approach that kind of number? Think about how far away Earth is from the Sun. Then think about how far away the next nearest star is. Finally, try to lớn think about the size of a universe that could contain 300 sextillion stars!
Did you get it?
Test your knowledge
We’d lượt thích to lớn thank:
andrew, Azra from FL, Tarquin from SC, kylie from MO and Colton
for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!
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