Everyone has a picture in their mind of the universe, in which you see stars in clusters, spiral galaxies, and Suns a bright orange that could blind you if you looked at them for a long time, making it a beautiful and brightly colored image. However, according to astronomers at the Johns Hopkins University, the actual color of the universe is much more, bland.
They describe it as a shade of beige they have called ‘cosmic latte’. That discovery comes after observing the color of light that 200,000 galaxies emit, combining them and thus producing this particular shade of beige, that really sounds more like something you would order from a trendy, hipster café in Brooklyn. When they came up with it some suggested other names, like ‘univeige’ or ‘skyvory’, but they stuck with the coffee inspired one.
Another interesting discovery that surrounds this particular area of study, is that the color of the universe hasn’t always been the same. Apparently, over six billion years it has shifted from a blue hue to a more red type of shade.
The way the astrophysicists managed to come up with the cosmic latte color was by first creating a cosmic spectrum before they blended it in accordance with the colors the human eye can see.
One of the Doctors involved in this project described the process as “a bit of fun” and also added: “We believe that the survey is large enough, reaching out several billion light years, to make this a truly representative sample.
Really the answer is very close to white. Their real motive for calculating the cosmic spectrum was really a lot more than producing this one color. The color is interesting but in fact, the cosmic spectrum is rich in detail and tells us a lot more about the history of star formation in the universe.”
The finding of this extensive research suggests that the Universe began sporting a shade of blue, but then a generation of “red” colored stars began evolving, resulting in the universe becoming redder. The evolution of this color is actually reminiscent to the colors you might see in the sky during sunset, going from a pale turquoise to beige and red.
Depending on how the eye adapts to the different amount of lights, it now varies from a pale pink, cream, and a soft turquoise. You can actually take a look at what this ‘cosmic latte’ looks like on the NASA picture of the day at http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap091101.html
Before this discovery, astrophysicists had calculated the color of the universe to be a shade of turquoise, but as it turns out the program they used to determine the wavelength of the light emitted by the stars and galaxies was flawed by having a wrong white point.
After the adjustments were made to correct that mistake, the new numbers came out and gave this new, more subdued color to our mighty and vast universe. Science never ceases to amaze.