The known universe just got a lot more crowded. Astronomers studying distant, elliptical galaxies say they spotted many more red dwarf stars than anticipated, suggesting that the number of stars in the universe is triple earlier estimates, the Daily Mail reports. The researchers now believe there are three septillion stars out there: a three followed by 24 zeroes.
"No one knew how many of these stars there were. Different theoretical models predicted a wide range of possibilities, so this answers a long-standing question about just how abundant these stars are," the lead researcher says. "There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars," he added, noting that most of the newly discovered stars are more than 10 billion years old, raising the chances that complex life has evolved around them. In other fun astronomy news, click here to read about an upcoming NASA announcement that has everyone talking "ET."