The total luminosity, or the total amount of light emitted, of the Milky Way, is estimated to be around 100 billion times that of the Sun. It’s important to note that this is the total luminosity of all the stars in the Milky Way, so the amount of light that we can see from Earth is much less. This is due to the fact that the majority of the stars in the Milky Way are located in the plane of the galaxy, which means that from our perspective on Earth, we can only see a small fraction of them.
LORRI sheds light, almost literally speaking
Scientists at the Rochester Institute of Technology have made a groundbreaking discovery that the light emitted by stars outside our galaxy is much brighter than previously thought, as SciTechDaily reveals.
Utilizing data collected by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA’s New Horizons mission, the research team observed and analyzed hundreds of images of background light to calculate the cosmic optical background (COB) and found that it is several times brighter than the light from the populations of galaxies that they knew about.
Teresa Symons, leader of the study and who works at the University of California Irvine, stated:
We see more light than we should see based on the populations of galaxies that we understand to exist and how much light we estimate they should produce,
Determining what is producing that light could change our fundamental understanding of how the universe formed over time.
The findings challenge past assumptions about the number and environment of stars in the universe. The study also suggests that sources of optical light might be missing in the universe. The research is currently available on ArXiv and has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.