The Number Of Galaxies The Universe Holds Just Expanded....10x Over

For many years, astronomers estimated there were about 100-200 billion galaxies in the universe. However, new research gleaned from the Hubble Space Telescope shows that 100-200 billion is about 10 TIMES too low of an estimate. The research group, led by Dr. Christopher Conselice, used a mix of new deep-space images and previously published data to make updated measurements of the number of possible galaxies a different points in the entire history of the universe [almost 14 billion years]. Link

With the additional help of mathematical models, the research group was able to basically prove that the number of galaxies we can account for do not make up the entirety of the universe. In fact, there may be galaxies either too faint and/or too far away to be seen with today's technology.

What does that mean? Well there is likely at least 1 trillion galaxies...and maybe even 2 million, if you're going on the high end of the spectrum.

Dr. Conselice said in a NASA news release, "Who knows wha interesting properties we will find when we discover these galaxies with future generations of telescopes?"

But when will that be?

Well, there's a soon-to-be released one [2018] that might show of these galaxies that we were previously unable t see. It is called the James Webb Space Telescope. This next generation telescope will allow for whole new levels of resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible light through near/mid-infrared light. One particular goal for this new telescope is observing some of the most distant events and objects in the new universe, like the formation of the first galaxies! Not to mention the ability to better understand the formation of stars, planets, and direct imaging of exoplanets.

The image above is from Flickr user Mooglet's account and is licensed under creative commons.

Were There Alien Civilizations?

This is not a new question in the world, or even this show. 55 years ago astronomer Frank Drake came up with an equation that weighed the odds for aliens. This is equation is something we explore in episode 022. But what's happened in-between now and then? Now two astronomers have tweaked the formula to come up with a slightly different spin. NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is helping, too. link

Woody Sullivan (University of Washington) and Adam Frank )University of Rochester) published their complicated findings recently in the May 2016 issue of Astrobiology. They slightly alter the question - not if they exist, but if they did. They say:

“While we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history,” (Adam Frank)

According to them, there’s an astronomically high chance that other technological civilizations have risen and fallen elsewhere in the universe at some point in its 13.8 billion-year history.

How did they arrive at this conclusion? Well, by deconstructing the Drake equation. Here's how they use the equation:

  • They start out with an estimate of 20 sextillion stars in the observable universe (2 x 1022).
  • There appears to be at least one planet for every star (1.0).
  • And about one-fifth of those planets appear to orbit in habitable zones (0.2).

That gives you an estimate of habitable planets in the universe: 4 sextillion, or 4 x 1021

hen the astronomers add a bit of a twist to the equation:

How low do you have to set the chances that a habitable planet gives rise to a signal-beaming civilization, in order to reduce what you get when you do the multiplication (planets times probability) to just one world? The number would have to be one chance in 4 sextillion, or 2.5 x 10-22. Pretty low contact rates, huh?

In a press release after their explosive conclusion, Frank says: “To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology-producing species very likely have evolved before us, Think of it this way: Before our result you’d be considered a pessimist if you imagined the probability of evolving a civilization on a habitable planet were, say, one in a trillion. But even that guess, one chance in a trillion, implies that what has happened here on Earth with humanity has in fact happened about 10 billion other times over cosmic history!”

Is it just a numbers game, or is this a breakthrough?


The above image is from Flickr User Kevin Gill and is licensed under Creative Commons.

Did the International Space Station just get Footage of a UFO?

This footage was captured by the International Space Station's base's cameras, where they released the  on Facebook - and theories abound to exactly what this could be. The slightly infamous UFO investigators, Secure Team 10, has posted a video on it that is quickly accruing views. However, spectators can't help but clash over whether or not the images show an alien craft. Tyler Glockner, from Secure Team 10, adds..."He [the person who sent him this video] says he sees what looks like a fireball of some sort streak in behind ISS."

The unidentifiable object comes out of the darkness of the feed, flies behind the ISS camera and gives us the briefest glance just before it disappears, shining some red lights on the ISS.

But how could it be a fireball in space? A place, by definition, does not contain any oxygen. In response, people are highlighting the fact that it may just be a meteor or other similar space event could explain the strange sight.

The video is at the top of this page, so you can decide for yourself.

The above picture is not related to the story and was provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The Transit Method Reveals Where We Should Look for Aliens

The search for signs of intelligent, extraterrestrial life continues but a new study suggests exactly where to start. Researchers, as we know, have identified and characterized many possibly habitable alien planets. They did this by utilizing the "transit method". The transit method analyzes how parent stars' light changes when orbiting across these stars' faces from Earth's perspective. This is accomplished via NASA's Kepler space telescope. link

Logically, intelligent aliens could possibly use this same strategy to discover Earth and learn that it has the ability to support life.

Rene Heller, of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in German says, "It's impossible to predict whether extraterrestrials use the same observational techniques as we do...But, they will have to deal with the same physical principles as we do, and Earth solar transits are an obvious method to detect us."

However, according to the rules of cosmic geometry, Earth's solar transits are visible from a limited swath of the sky. This has been dubbed by Ralph Pruditz, a professor of physics and astronomy at McMaster University in Canada, the "transit" zone.

Through this understanding, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) should focus on this particular swath of space in order to gain the highest chance for contact.

The transit zone contains roughly 100,000 stars, which means there's no shortage of "potential targets for SETI scientists' radio telescopes."

This picture was taken by Flickr user AcidPix and is licensed under the Creative Commons.

95% of the Ocean is Unexplored, We Are The Aliens There

Freediver Guillaume Néry Rides An Ocean Current To An Alien Landscape

By taking advantage of a powerful rip current in French Polynesia's famed Tiputa Pass, world-class freediver Guillaume Néry gets pushed around the barren, rocky landscape as if he were a satellite orbiting an alien planet. Néry -- who is not using any breathing equipment -- is surrounded only by a dark, lonely abyss.

The video, "Ocean Gravity," is meant to be disorienting and unsettling. Director Julie Gautier (and Néry's wife) says that by ignoring basic rules for framing her shots, she was "able to create the natural illusion of a curved planet" on the ocean floor.

A lifeless, cold planet, that is.

Typically, Tiputa Pass is teeming with sharks, manta rays, and fish, making it a popular destination for divers. Gautier said that the biggest challenge of the project was avoiding the abundant sea life in order to preserve the otherworldly atmosphere of the footage.

As captivating as this footage is, rip currents are no joke. These forces of nature pose by far the most danger to beachgoers, pulling unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.

In other words, don't try this at home.