Do you also wonder how many colors are there in the universe? Then, you have come to just the right place to explore the colors of the universe.
Colors and the universe, and many more interesting things, are what this article will help you explore. You’ll find out about what colors are, how many colors there are in the universe, the color of the universe. We have discussed these in detail below.
What are Colors
Before we dive into the beautiful world of colors and “How many colors are there in the universe?” let’s find out what exactly colors are.
In the simplest terms, colors are the quality of a substance with respect to the light reflected by the object into our eyes. Physics describes them as “electromagnetic radiation of a certain range of wavelengths visible to the human eye” (Britannica).
The wavelength of light plays a crucial role in what color we see, and it determines the color that the light appears.
But the question arises, How many colors are there in the universe?
How Many Colors Are There in the Universe
The best answer to the question of “How many colors are there in the universe?” is infinity.
Scientists, and psychologists, have busted their heads, trying to find an accurate answer to the question, “How many colors are there in the universe?” With time they have come up with the answer that there are almost 10 million colors in the universe. But why is that?
This is because we can see about 1000 shades of light-dark colors, about 100 shades of red-green colors, and about 100 shades of yellow-blue colors, in a single viewing condition.
So, we get 100 x 100 x 1000 = 10,000,000; which is 10 million.
But, it isn’t that simple. What color looks like is majorly affected by the viewing conditions, like the lighting or the other colors in the room. In fact, there’s plenty of research that shows that men and women actually have brain differences that cause differences in color perception. Vision deficiencies can also be a major factor here, along with many more factors.
So that makes the number of colors:
10 million colors x 10 million lighting levels x 10 million surrounding colors x 6-billion people in the world x 3 modes of viewing = 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
This is a huge number, making the true answer to “How many colors are there in the universe?” to be “infinite” after all.
Why We Only Name a Few When We Have Infinite Number of Colors
Why is it that we know name of only a few colors even after finding the answer to “How many colors are there in the universe?”
Researchers suggest that we name the colors of things we want to talk about, the main 11 colors we talk about and get by with: black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, orange, pink, purple and gray; in American English, but why so?
An interesting fact is that, while English has 11 words that everyone knows, many more languages and cultures have a different set of colors under the category of “common colors.”
Non-industrialized cultures commonly have a lesser number of names for colors that are known by them all than industrialized cultures.
Primary Additive Colors
The human eye contains cone cell photoreceptors, that are embedded in the small central fovea of the retina that is tuned to respond to wavelengths distributed within 3 regions, with specialized pigment proteins.
All the colors of the visible light spectrum can be produced by adding or subtracting various combinations of the three primary colors that are- Red, Green, and Blue.
Humans can only see a fraction of the range of frequencies of light and their wavelengths, called the electromagnetic spectrum. The “cone cells” in our eyes perceive wavelengths of light that appear roughly red, green, and blue.
And though there is an infinite number of colors visible to the human eye, these primary colors are the source of all of them. We see color because our eyes separate white light based on these three types of colors, and our brains assemble color from this information.
What Color is the Universe
Since we have dived deep into the question of “How many colors are there in the universe?” let’s now delve into the topic of color of the universe.
Have you looked up at the night sky and thought that the universe is a never-ending sea of blackness. Let me clear this out first; the universe is not black in color.
“Black is not a color; it is just the absence of detectable light,” said Ivan Baldry, a professor at the Liverpool John Moores University.
Fun fact: When Hubble scientists take photos of space, they use filters to record specific wavelengths of light through a Hubble space telescope. They take it only in black and white and later add the primary colors to color the exposures taken through those filters.
The comic spectrum “represents the sum of all the energy in the universe emitted at different optical wavelengths of light,” wrote Baldry and Karl Glazebrook. The cosmic spectrum has ultraviolet and blue light on the left red light on the right, and this rainbow of colors helped them in figuring out the average color of the universe.
Stars and galaxies emit waves of electromagnetic radiation. The only portion of electromagnetic radiation, in terms of the range of wavelengths that the naked eye can see is the “visible light.” The measure of the brightness and wavelengths of light that the star or galaxy emits can be used to determine the color of the star or galaxy.
According to Ivan Baldry, researchers made use of a color-matching computer program to make the cosmic spectrum visible to human eyes. Which lead to the team determining that the average color of the universe is a beige shade that is not too far off from white.
They call it the “cosmic latte” since “latte” is Italian for “milk” and also “Latteo” means “Milky,” similar to the Italian term for the Milky Way, “Via Lattea,” and they enjoyed the fact that the color of the milky way is similar to the color of a latte.
A point to be noted is that: It isn’t turquoise, as Baldry and Karl Glazebrook first thought.
They determined this by combining light from over 200,000 galaxies within 2 billion light-years of Earth. This data came from the Australian 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, which constraints on the cosmic star formation history from the cosmic spectrum.
Though a point to be noted is that because these stars would have been “brighter” in the past, the color of the universe changes over time.
What Was the First Color in the Universe
How many colors are there in the universe? The universe bathes in the sea of light, even has colors that aren’t visible to our eyes.
The universe began with the big bang. At first, there was no light since the temperature was so high. The observable universe was a transparent cosmic cloud of hydrogen and helium. Afterwards, even though there was light, there was no color.
But now we have a good idea of what that first color was; it was an orange-white glow that originated as blackbody radiation.
Color of Stars of the Universe
The color of the stars that one might see while laying down under the night sky differs with different stars’ different surface temperatures and is dependent primarily on their composition and temperature.
Stars exist in a range of colors, them being: red, orange, yellow, green, white and blue with red stars being the coolest, yellow stars being warm and blue stars being the hottest, whereas blue stars tend to be the brightest, whereas red stars the dimmest.
On heating, different elements radiate radiations of different wavelength. Similarly, in stars, it is the various trace elements that make it up. The color that we see is the combination of these different electromagnetic wavelengths, which are called Planck’s curve.
But when the various colors of the spectrum are combined, they appear white to the naked eye. This makes the apparent color of the star appear lighter than where the star’s peak wavelength falls on the color spectrum. For example, the sun appears white, but its wavelength corresponds to the green part of the spectrum.
I hope this answered the question “How many colors are there in the universe?” and also so much more about the color of the universe and different stars!