Number of Stars in the Sky.. A Celestial Conundrum

Poets often borrow the number of stars in the sky to express the abundance of love they hold in their hearts towards a beloved or even a spiritual entity like their homeland.

In her song “Qad Al-Harouf” inspired by a poem written by the poet Abdulrahman bin Masaad, the renowned Arab singer Assala Nasri sings, “As vast as the sky, as numerous as the stars in my love”. But did the poets hit the mark by using stars as a measure of abundance? Or, to put it more clearly, how many stars are there in the universe?

According to astronomers, if you look up at the sky on a clear night, you will see thousands of stars, approximately 6,000. The limitation of this number is related to the capabilities of your vision, not a scarcity of stars. Because this is just a tiny fraction of all the stars in the universe.

How many stars are there in the universe? It’s a truly baffling question that has perplexed scientists. As a result, they resorted to approximations and estimations to narrow down the number of stars.

The closest-to-reality principle that astronomers relied upon is estimating the number of stars in a typical galaxy and then multiplying that by the estimated number of galaxies in the universe.

To do this, they capture extremely detailed images of small sections of the sky, counting all the galaxies they see in those images. This number is then multiplied by the required number of images to cover the entire sky. Based on deep field images from the Hubble Space Telescope, there are around two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.

Some estimates indicate that the mass of the Milky Way galaxy contains 100 billion times the mass of the Sun. With an average count of star types within our galaxy, this results in a number of about 100 billion stars in the galaxy.

Using the Milky Way galaxy as a model, we can multiply the number of stars in a typical galaxy (100 billion) by the number of galaxies in the universe (2 trillion), and we will then find that the answer to the question of how many stars are in the universe is 200 billion trillion stars, or 200 sextillion. What an astronomical number! It’s truly astronomical, figuratively and literally.

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