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The Universe Contains Two Trillion Galaxies, Which Is Nearly Ten Times As Many Galaxies As Previously Estimated

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The observable universe boasts at least 10 times as many galaxies as originally estimated, according to research published on Thursday in The Astrophysical Journal. This means that the cosmic census of galaxies, which has been conventionally pegged at around 100 to 200 billion, may be closer to a whopping two trillion individual galactic systems.

The surprising discovery is the result of a meticulous galactic survey mined from 15 years’ worth of deep space observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. An international team led by University of Nottingham astrophysicist Christopher Conselice compiled the Hubble data into a three-dimensional timeline of galactic evolution over the universe’s history. 

This model reveals that only one in every 10 of the universe’s galaxies are nearby enough or bright enough to be detected with the current slate of astronomical observatories. “It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied,” Conselice said in a statement. “Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we observe these galaxies with the next generation of telescopes?”

There’s a great segment in the “The Backbone of Night” episode of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in which Carl Sagan explains the grandeur of the universe to a classroom of schoolchildren:

"There are, in fact, 100 billion other galaxies, each of which contains something like a 100 billion stars,” Sagan said. “Think of how many stars, and planets, and kinds of life there may be in this vast and awesome universe."

Evolution on a galactic scale:

Evolution on a Galactic Scale

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