A Cosmic Question – What Color is the Universe?

What Color is the Universe?
What color is the universe? It might seem like a question that is impossible to answer, but back in 2001, we seemingly got our verdict: Cosmic Latte.

While it might sound like the newest creation from Starbucks, Cosmic Latte is the actual name scientists came up with to describe the color of the universe.

How Did They Come to This Discovery?

In 2001, two astronomers from Johns Hopkins University named Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry set out to study star formation. As part of their research, they examined the spectral analysis of different galaxies.  

The two men and their collaborators gathered detailed light measurements from more than 200,000 galaxies. With that data, they were able to construct a cosmic spectrum, which represented all the energy in the local universe emitted at different optical wavelengths of light.

Glazebrook and Baldry realized that if they simply added their measurements, they could possibly determine an average wavelength, or color, of everything that they observed.

So they went ahead and did it.

What Color is the Universe?

Cosmic Latte

It turns out, all the light in the universe added up to a slightly beigeish white. The hexadecimal RGB value for the color is #FFF8E7.

While not the most exciting color, the scientists and their crew were able to come up with some pretty fun names for it. Cappuccino Cosmico, Skyvory, and Big Bang Buff all eventually lost out to Cosmic Latte.

Other Findings

Remember that Glazebrook and Baldry didn’t just set out to determine the color of the universe. They were interested in star formation.

From their findings, they also were able to help determine that the majority of stars in the universe formed about 5 billion years ago. In the past, these stars would have been brighter and hotter, so the color of the universe actually changes over time.

Thanks to these aging stars, the color of the universe has gradually shifted from a blueish to a reddish hue. This is because stars shift from blue to yellow and eventually red as they age.

This all means that the Comic Latte might be more of a Strawberry Shake in a few million years. Either way, still tasty.

Mark Heald

Mark Heald is an Associate Product Manager and Sporcle Admin. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and bemoaning the fact the Sonics left Seattle.

Comments

comments

Mark Heald
About Mark Heald 140 Articles
Mark Heald is an Associate Product Manager and Sporcle Admin. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and bemoaning the fact the Sonics left Seattle.