How many moles of stars are in the known universe? (Beginner)

Let's work through a rough calculation of the number of Sun-like stars in the Universe. There are approximately 200 billion Sun-like stars in the Milky Way, and about the same number of galaxies in the observable Universe. So, let's say that the total number of stars in the observable Universe is about (200 billion) x (200 billion), or about 4x1022 (four times ten to the 22) stars. A mole is defined as 6x1023 of something, so a mole of stars is 6x1023 stars. If we compare this number to our estimate of the total number of stars, we find that there is about 1/10 of a mole of stars in the Universe.

Needless to say, although moles are a good unit to use when dealing with atoms and molecules, there are fewer moles of stars in the Universe than you might think...

 

This page updated on June 27, 2015

About the Author

Kristine Spekkens

Kristine Spekkens

Kristine studies the dynamics of galaxies and what they can teach us about dark matter in the universe. She got her Ph.D from Cornell in August 2005, was a Jansky post-doctoral fellow at Rutgers University from 2005-2008, and is now a faculty member at the Royal Military College of Canada and at Queen's University.

Kristine's email: 

Kristine's websites: 
http://www.astro.queensu.ca/people/Kristine_Spekkens/main.php
http://www.rmc.ca/aca/phy/per/spekkens-k-eng.php

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