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CIBER-2: Counting of Stars

  • 05 Jun 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

A NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) funded CIBER-2 sounding rocket’s launch window will open at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, USA.

  • The aim of CIBER-2 mission is to look for evidence of extra stars that may have been missed in stellar head counts.
  • The ESA (European Space Agency) infrared space observatory Herschel also counted the number of galaxies in infrared and measured their luminosity previously.

Key Points

  • Sounding Rocket:
    • Sounding rockets take their name from the nautical term "to sound," which means to take measurements.
    • Since 1959, NASA-sponsored space and earth science research has used sounding rockets to test instruments used on satellites and spacecraft and to provide information about the Sun, stars, galaxies and Earth's atmosphere and radiation.
  • About CIBER-2 (Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment-2):
    • The mission is the latest in a series of sounding rocket launches that began in 2009. The count from the first CIBER mission paved the way to reorganize the research and give the counting of stars another run.
    • The CIBER-2 instrument will launch aboard a sounding rocket, a small suborbital rocket that will carry scientific instruments on brief trips into space before it falls back to Earth for recovery.
    • Once above Earth’s atmosphere, CIBER-2 will survey a patch of sky about 4 square degrees - for reference, the full Moon takes up about half a degree – that includes dozens of galaxy clusters.
    • It will not actually count individual stars but it will instead detect the extragalactic background light, which is all of the light that has been emitted throughout the history of the Universe.
    • From all of this extragalactic background light, the CIBER-2 will focus on a portion of this called cosmic infrared background, which is emitted by some of the most common stars.
      • Essentially, this approach is aiming to look at how bright this light is to give scientists an estimate of how many of these stars are out there.
  • Rough Estimate of Stars:
    • To get a rough estimate of the total number of stars in the universe, scientists have calculated the average number of stars in a galaxy – some estimates put it at about 100 million, though it could be 10 or more times higher.
    • Multiplying it by the number of galaxies, taken to be about 2 trillion (also very tentative), there are one hundred quintillion stars (or 1 with 21 zeros after it).
    • But this calculation assumes that all stars are inside galaxies, which might not be true and this is what the CIBER-2 instrument will try to find out.
    • The European Space Agency (ESA) says there could be 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone.

Source: IE

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