If there’s one thing you can guarantee a child will do when playing with a paint set, it’s mixing all the available colours together just to “see what happens.” We all did it, and no doubt children continue to do so, fueled by inquisitive desire.
Astronomers have now pretty much done the same thing, just on a universal scale. By mixing together all of the colours that can be found in the universe, scientists have created the “colour of the universe.”
Is the universe a bright, star-like yellow? Or is it a dark black, like the wide expanse of space? Actually, both are way off. Somewhat surprisingly, the colour of the universe is a simple, bland, off-white named “Cosmic Latte” by scientists. To anyone else, the colour may as well be beige.
A little anti-climactic, yes, but the way in which the Cosmic Latte was discovered and the reason for the astronomical investigation are a bit more interesting.
By taking the light emitted by 200,000 galaxies, scientists placed all of the data on a visual scale dubbed the “Cosmic Spectrum.” This is a representation of all of the observable light/energy found in all of the galaxies, then placed on a graph according to their respective wavelength, or how the human eye would perceive the light.
When all of the colours found on the Cosmic Spectrum are combined, an off-white is the result. And that’s how the Cosmic Latte was discovered.
But, as the TopScienceFact video titled The Color Of The Universe points out, the Cosmic Latte isn’t the same for everyone. Several variables are at play when looking at the colour, including a person’s eyesight, the ambient light in whatever room they’re in, and the colour of their computer screen.
For a more precise look at the Cosmic Latte, CIE X,Y colour values (a method of qualitatively mapping wavelengths and their perception by the human eye) can be used. Both the “x” and “y” value for the Cosmic Latte is 0.345, which is basically just white with a tinge of pink.
As time goes on, however, the Cosmic Latte will grow redder and redder. This is due to the aging of the universe. When the universe was first formed, bright, blue stars dominated the cosmos. But as billions of years have gone by, the amount of new stars has decreased and the amount of older, red stars has increased. This process will continue as more stars get older, adding more of a red tint to the Cosmic Latte.
Of course, any noticeable change to the universal colour will take a long, long time. Still, the way in which the Cosmic Latte was discovered and what it shows us about our universe is quite interesting. Colour can be found everywhere, even in celestial processes, and the Cosmic Latte showcases where our universe came from and where it’s headed.
To see a more visual breakdown on the colour of the universe, head to the video below.
Featured image courtesy of: WalkingGeek