New Horizons probe revealed the presence of billions of hidden galaxies in the Universe

(ORDO NEWS) — In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe made history in science with its first close flyby past Pluto.

After that, the members of the mission team did not stop there and directed the spacecraft towards the Kuiper belt object, now known as Arrocot (2014 MU69), with which the probe approached on December 31, 2018.

Even these historical achievements were not enough for the mission team, and taking advantage of the fact that the probe is located far on the periphery of the solar system, the researchers measured with its help the parallaxes of the stars Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359, closest to our planetary system. But one more remarkable direction of using the New Horizons probe associated with its unique position at the edge of the solar system, was the measurement of the amount of scattered background light that fills our universe with its help. These measurements were not part of the mission program, and were recently carried out using data collected at one time using the onboard Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) instruments by a team of astronomers led by Tod R. Lauer of the National Observatory Optical Astronomy, USA.

These measurements of the so-called “extragalactic background optical radiation” are unique, since the rest of the terrestrial and space observation means available to scientists for these purposes are located deep inside the solar system, where sensitive observations in the optical range are interfered with background radiation from the dust particles of the solar system, reflecting the light of our star. Measurements of the amount of extragalactic background optical radiation play an important role for astronomers, as they allow you to correct models that predict the distribution of stars, the size and density of galaxies, and also test hypotheses related to the large-scale structure and formation of the Universe. Measurement of the diffuse component of this radiation, that is, radiation not associated with stars and galaxies known to science,

After examining the data collected with the LORRI instrument, Lauer and his colleagues found the presence of a significant diffuse component in the analyzed radiation. After running a further Monte Carlo simulation to simulate possible sources, the authors concluded that the detected diffuse radiation is associated with a significant number of faint galaxies that we have yet to discover in the future. It is worth noting that until 2016, scientists believed that there are only about 200 billion galaxies in the Universe, however, a recalculation carried out in 2016, taking into account data collected as part of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field observational campaign, increased this number by about 10 times. … It is possible that the new data from this study will also lead to a significant increase in the estimate of the number of galaxies in our universe, according to Lauer and his team.

The study is published in the Astrophysical Journal.


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