GS PAPER III: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Context: In order to roughly estimate the number of stars in the Universe, scientists have estimated that on average each galaxy consists of about 100 million stars, but this figure is not exact.
- NASA-funded rocket’s launch window will open at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, USA.
- The aim of this mission is to count the number of stars that exist in the Universe.
- CIBER-2 instrument has been improved upon to see if any stars had been undercounted in the previous counting attempts.
What is CIBER-2?
- In order to roughly estimate the number of stars in the Universe, scientists have estimated that on average each galaxy consists of about 100 million stars, but this figure is not exact.
- The figure of 100 million could easily be an underestimation, probably by a factor of 10 or more.
- NASA notes that if this figure is accurate it would mean that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are more than ten stars.
- This instrument will launch aboard a sounding rocket, a small suborbital rocket that will carry scientific instruments on brief trips into space before it falls back to Earth for recovery.
How will CIBER-2 count stars?
- Once the instrument is above Earth’s atmosphere, it will survey a patch of sky that will include dozens of clusters of galaxies.
- The instrument will not actually count individual stars but it will instead detect the extragalactic background light, which is all of the light that has been emitted throughout the history of the Universe.
- From all of this extragalactic background light, the CIBER-2 will focus on a portion of this called cosmic infrared background, which is emitted by some of the most common stars.
- Essentially, this approach is aiming to look at how bright this light is to give scientists an estimate of how many of these stars are out there.
- The ESA infrared space observatory Herschel also counted the number of galaxies in infrared and measured their luminosity previously.