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Is It True: There are more trees on Earth than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy?

Trees and Milky Way Stars

Ever tried to count either trees or stars? You curiosity in either the trees or the stars, or both, or something entirely different, must have at one point brought you across a claim that there are more trees on Earth than stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Considering the comparison, many planet lovers are bound to find comfort if it is indeed a verifiable fact. So, is it?

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Yes! It’s True!

Our galaxy the Milky Way is estimated to contain between 200 to 400 billion stars and spread over a diameter of 100,000 to 180,000 light-years.

Milky Way Galaxy
Image Source: Wikpedia

The Milky Way is the second largest galaxy in the Local Group (the group of galaxies among which the Milky Way is one). Counting the stars is a tricky business even with the most sophisticated equipment we have on Earth as the low-mass stars are hard to detect at distances of more than 300 light-years from the Sun. So, the estimations depend upon the method and data used in calculating. Also, there is no way to clearly define the boundary of our galaxy. There is only decrease in the concentration of stars rather than complete absence as we move further from the center. After a distance of 40,000 light-years, the number of stars per cubic parsec starts to drop faster. So, that gives us a rough estimate of 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way.

According to a recent estimate, there are over 3.04 trillion trees on Earth. 

Number of Trees on Earth
Image Source: nature

The highest densities of trees, calculated in stems per hectare, are located in the boreal forests of North America, Scandinavia and Russia. During the 1800s, the number of farms and orchards increased in North America and much of the forest was harvested for timber. Though there is an increased expansion of suburban areas, forests occupy 80 percent of the land in the six states of New England.

For obvious reasons, counting the exact number of trees on Earth is a lot more difficult than counting the exact number of stars. A study published on Nature made an estimation using a combination of satellite imagery and data from tree counts on the ground that covered more than 4,000 square kilometers. Based on this estimation, there are over 3 trillion, that’s twelve zeros, trees on this planet, which is over seven times the previous estimation of 400 billion.

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So, yes. There are more trees on planet Earth than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. 

Trees and Milky Way
Image Source: rachidphoto

The difference in their numbers is huge. There are almost ten times more trees than the average number of stars in our galaxy. But, that of course, is no reason relax our attitude towards deforestation. The study that made the estimate of number of trees also found that since farming began 12,000 years ago the number actually fell by half. In fact, an estimated 15 billion trees are cut down each year. So, try and be more friendly  towards our environment and plant more trees.

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