Counting each and every one of the galaxies in the observable Universe, for now, is impossible for us. Instead, astronomers have developed ingenious mathematical calculations to get a ballpark figure. But it turns out they were wrong, with data revealed by the New Horizons spacecraft, the figure has been drastically reduced. Testing so the Universe is actually much darker than we thought.
For years the space telescope Hubble has been the main tool for astronomers to observe the Universe. Hubble’s problem is the same as the problem we have on Earth when we see the sky from a city or from a mountain: light pollution. The sun makes it extremely difficult for the telescope to observe in deep space.
Be that as it may, with the data obtained by Hubble and other telescopes, we have previously been able to estimate how many galaxies there are beyond our own. This uses mathematical models to estimate how many galaxies were too small and faint for Hubble to see. Astronomers concluded that about 90% of galaxies are not visible for Hubble. With this figure it is calculated that therefore there are about two billion galaxies. Error.
The Universe that New Horizon reveals to us from the Kuiper Belt
This is where the New Horizons ship comes into play. New Horizons is a interplanetary spacecraft that was launched in 2006 for the purpose of studying the Solar System at its edge and what lies beyond it. Next to Voyager I and II It is one of the objects that humans have sent farthest into space.
New Horizons is currently more than 6.4 billion kilometers from us. In 2015 he crossed Pluto and now it is traversing the Kupier Belt. In those parts things are different than around here, with the Sun much further away than from Earth, the environment is much darker. About 10 times darker than in this area of the Solar System.
Said darkness is what has allowed New Horizons to take a much better look at deep space. By having hardly any light pollution like Hubble, it has been able to send more accurate data on the cosmic optical background. The cosmic optical background is, in very general lines, the brightness and diffuse light generated by galaxies in the Universe. And it is smaller than previously thought.
With the new data compiled by New Horizons the researchers now estimate that there are not actually about two trillion galaxies, but rather a few hundred billion galaxies. It is still an extremely high figure, yes, but much lower compared to the previous one.
Future observations with the promising James Webb space telescope it can help bring out more data (literally) on this. For now we have to settle for the data that New Horizons is collecting, which are not few. The ship is achieving incredible milestones in recent months. For example, he holds the record for photo taken from the farthest place on Earth O see the stars differently from us.
Via | Hubble Site
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