More Stars In The Universe Than We Thought

Yale Astronomers Study Stars In Elliptical Galaxies

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More Stars In The Universe Than We Thought
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More Stars In The Universe Than We Thought

New research shows there are probably three times as many stars in the universe as was previously thought.  Yale University astronomers, who led the research, were surprised by the finding.

"We did a lot of checks on the results before we started to believe it."

Yale astronomer Pieter Van Dokkum says for years people used the Milky Way as a template to estimate how many stars there were in far away galaxies. "We cannot really see all the stars in these galaxies.  We just assume that the number of stars that we don’t see is going to be the same as in the Milky Way. And that now turns out to be too simple"

Especially when it comes to different types of galaxies.  Last year Van Dokkum’s team was able to use the biggest telescope in the world to measure the number of so-called “dwarf stars” found in elliptical galaxies. "And we found  that the number of these stars was much higher than we had expected by about a factor of ten or so. And that has implications for the total number of stars in the universe. And so we think that number is raised by about a factor of three."

An article about the discovery can be found in the journal Nature’s Advanced Online Publication.