There are a dizzying 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, up to 20 times more than previously thought, astronomers reported on Thursday. The surprising finding, based on 3D modeling of images collected over 20 years by the Hubble Space Telescope, was published in the Astronomical Journal.
Scientists have puzzled over how many galaxies the cosmos harbors at least since US astronomer Edwin Hubble showed in 1924 that Andromeda, a neighboring galaxy, was not part of our own Milky Way. But even in the era of modern astronomy, getting an accurate tally has proven difficult.
To begin with, there is only part of the cosmos where light given off by distant objects has had time to reach Earth. The rest is effectively beyond our reach. And even within this “observable universe”, current technology only allows us to glimpse 10% of what is out there, according to the new findings.