A recent investigation published on Thursday proposes that the universe is bigger than we thought, two trillion times bigger than we thought. A British team of scientists suggests that the previously believed number of galaxies within the universe is mistaken and that researchers have been a trillion times short.

In 1924 an astronomer called Edwin Hubble suggested that our galaxy wasn’t the only one in the entire universe after he discovered Andromeda. This research led the U.S scientist to a large investigation that awarded him with a giant telescope that has orbited Earth since 1995.

How many galaxies are in the Universe? How do we know? Image Credit: Youtube

Following Hubble’s findings, a team of U.K scientists has collected all of the images captured for over a decade by the Hubble Space Telescope and reconstructed them in a 3D space map that showed them all of the man known galaxies in the universe. But they were surprised when they understood that they had been missing something.

A better understanding of our universe 

Until now, astronomers thought that there were between 100 and 200 billion galaxies in the universe, these findings have been made thanks to the images captured by the Hubble telescope. However, researchers have always understood that our current technology was limitational to further knowledge.

Christopher Conselice, an astrophysics professor at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, started studying a decade-worth of space pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Conselice and his team, reconstructed the images to form a 3D map of the universe showing the previously known galaxies and started to wonder how to find what was missing.

“It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied. Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we observe these galaxies with the next generation of telescopes,” said Conselice.

The research team developed a mathematical model in which they were able to estimate the number of galaxies not seen by the telescope. This was possible thanks to theories in which the universe need at least ten times the galaxies already known by men to exist. Conselice and his team determined that there were, in fact, two trillion galaxies in the universe.

Their finding was supported by studying the evolution of the universe since they evaluated all of the galaxies mapped by the Hubble telescope, the team stopped and analyzed the older ones, those dating 13-billion light years back and which actually belong to the past.

Studying the universe makes seeing the past possible since light takes a time to travel trough space, the galaxies and light reflections that researchers are watching today are galaxies from the Big Bang era. Which means researchers can see the universe throughout its entire evolutionary process.

By analyzing older galaxies, the team found that in the early universe era there were fewer galaxies that there is today, in fact, there were only dwarf galaxies that through time merged and formed the bigger galaxies we see nowadays.

“Very surprising as we know that, over the 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution since the Big Bang, galaxies have been growing through star formation and mergers with other galaxies. Finding more galaxies in the past implies that significant evolution must have occurred,” said Conselice in a statement.

The study’s findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Source: Cornell University Library