Universe Has Way, Way More Galaxies Than We Thought

And that means a better chance of intelligent life somewhere out there
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2016 6:00 PM CDT
Forget Billion, There Are Actually 2 Trillion Galaxies in Universe
A portion of the southern field of the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey that was used to recalculate the total number of galaxies in the observable universe.   (NASA, ESA/Hubble via AP)

And you thought the universe made you feel small and insignificant before. Popular Science reports astronomers working with data from Hubble now say there are at least 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. That's at least 10 times as many as the 100 billion to 200 billion estimated back in the mid-90s, according to a Hubble press release. "It boggles the mind," astronomer Christopher Conselice says. Popular Mechanics reports it took 15 years of studying data for astronomers to reach the new estimate for galaxies, 90% of which we can't see even with the best telescopes because they are too small or faint. But astronomers are hopeful that number drops slightly with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

With billions and billions more galaxies in the universe, astronomers have a lot to mull over. For example, the probability that intelligent life exists somewhere else in the universe just went up thanks to the new galaxies, which Popular Mechanics says make "it even more astronomically unlikely that we are alone." Astronomers also used the data to look 13 billion years into the past, discovering that the number of galaxies dwindles over time as they merge together. The new galaxies also aren't going to help people still befuddled by Olber's paradox, which GeekWire explains as the question of why the sky is dark at night despite the billions of galaxies and countless stars that should be lighting up every square inch of it. (The universe is aging faster than we thought.)

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