Five years ago, the New Horizons spacecraft sailed past Pluto and deeper into the Kuiper Belt.
Because it is so far away from both the Sun and the cosmic dust in the nearby solar system that reflects its light, blinding astronomers, scientists have decided to use New Horizons’ instruments to determine how bright the universe actually is. Even after filtering any known light source, NPR reports, about half the light remained – revealing either some unknown phenomenon, the limitations of our technology, or both.
The light from all known sources in space is roughly equivalent to everything else, according to a team study accepted for publication by The Astrophysical Journal. This could mean that there are more galaxies that are too far away or obscured for our telescopes to catch. Or, as study co-author and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute Mark Postman said NPR, there may be “some other source of light that we do not yet know what it is.”
In principle, it is possible to have some inexplicable background light in space.
“They say there’s as much light outside the galaxies as there is inside the galaxies, which is a pretty difficult pill to swallow, to be honest,” Rochester Institute of Technology astrophysicist Michael Zemkov told NPR.
Zemkov has not worked on the new study, but has conducted similar research in the past and says the new findings are credible. This pill he mentioned has more to do with the assumption that astronomers missed the target so much than with skepticism.
It’s very difficult to turn around and tell the astronomical community, like, “Hey, guys, we’re missing half the stuff there,” he said. NPR.
READ MORE: Scientists have discovered that outer space is not black after all[[NPR]
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