Quirks & Quarks

The Darkness is Full of Stars

As many as half the stars in the universe may be hiding in the dark....
Sounding rocket launch from NASA's Wallops facilty - T Arai/University of Tokyo

As many as half the stars in the universe may be hiding in the dark.The dark space between the galaxies is much brighter, and much more star-filled than we had ever guessed. New research from a team, including Canadian astronomer Dr. Michael Zemcov, a senior post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, has detected large amounts of light coming from the apparently empty space between bright galaxies throughout the universe. The nature of this light suggests it's coming from "rogue stars" that have been cast into intergalactic space when galaxies collide. The stars are not bright enough to be resolved individually; but because there are so many, they saturate the universe in a dim glow that Dr. Zemcov and his colleagues were able to detect with a wide-angle infra-red telescope that flies on sub-orbital rocket flights. They calculate that as many as half the stars in the universe may live in intergalactic space.

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