Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let me count the galaxies

NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team

The NASA image above is the recent Hubble Extreme Deep Field, a compilation of hundreds of Hubble images of a tiny, tiny slice of the night sky.

Spiffy huh?

To get a feel for the size of the area of the sky covered by the image, go outside and hold a pencil at arms length. The area covered by the eraser is about the size of this image.

Highly educated scientists are paid good money to do this stuff, like count the number of galaxies, not stars, galaxies, in the image.

They counted.

The number is about 5,500.


A galaxy might have a few stars (ten million) or many (our Milky Way is estimated to have 200 billion) the math on a tiny sliver of the sky with 5,500 galaxies each with millions, billions of stars...multiply by the area of the entire one a headache.

It is not a cliche to say that the whole business of the universe is mind boggling.

I'll have to classify it all under two scriptures:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Sometimes we think too small...I think.

More on XDF here.


Moses Model said...

There are more stars in the known universe than grains of sand. I am often dismayed by people who argue the Bible says there is no intelligent life on other planets. The numbers are truly awe inspiring. For most of human history, we were limited to seeing less than 10,000 stars.

ET said...

Why? It is all the more amazing if God created it all and did NOT create inhabitants on other worlds.

I've never studied the subject enough to argue whether or not the Bible makes an definitive statements on the possibility of life on other planets, but I think to believe that there must be other life because the universe is so big is to miss the statement that "My ways are higher than your ways".

Moses Model said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moses Model said...


Yes, his ways are higher than our ways. We have little way to anticipate what God would do in the natural world or throughout eternity. This is exactly my point. The Bible and theology are a poor guide to predict whether or not there is anything in the universe.

A possible a better predictor might be that the most common elements in the universe: Hydrogen,
Helium, Oxygen, Neon, Nitrogen, Carbon,Silicon,Magnesium,Iron, and Sulfur. With the exception of Phosphorus, the most common elements in our bodies are also the most common elements in the universe. Of course there are a lot of other things, like the universe is constantly trying to kill life and this may hamper intelligent life, but there are over a hundred billion galaxies where people might not be muoned to death. :)