The Color of the Universe is Beige

The universe is a pretty mesmerizing place. From all of the natural wonders here on earth to the Tesla roadster flying through our galaxy, there’s certainly not a lack of wonder surrounding us. All this amazement naturally leads us to one prominent question, “what color is it?”

Okay, well, maybe that’s just me, but a group of researchers has solidly confirmed what color the universe is. Are you ready for it? It’s beige.

But not just any beige, the color of the universe is named “Cosmic Latte”. A team of astronomers from Johns Hopkins University gave the universe’s color that name in 2002 after running a series of tests collecting massive amounts of light samples.

Initially, in 2001, the researchers thought that the universe was a slightly less attractive greenish white, but in 2002, they issued a correction claiming that the light from 200,000 studied galaxies averaged together comes out to a beige-ish white. And, if you were wondering what the hex triplet value for this “beige-ish white” is, it’s #FFF8E7.

Image Source: Concerning Reality

Believe it or not, the focus of this groundbreaking research study in the early 2000s was not to determine the next new crayon color for the universe, rather it was to understand the star formation process. The astronomers collected spectral analysis readings from different galaxies to examine when and how stars form.

On the star formation front, the astronomers were actually successful, finding that the majority of stars formed around 5 billion years ago.

As the researchers quickly realized, the collection of all of this spectral analysis data gave them the ability to see what color the universe appears from Earth.

The beige-ish color of the universe is due to how light from distant stars appears from down here on our blue planet. As these distant galaxies emit light that then travels billions of lightyears to earth, the lightwaves tend toward pure white, due to the light being from the stars “youthful” years closer to their initial formation.

Now, why was the name “Cosmic Latte” chosen? It’s all thanks to a vote held by the team of astronomers at Johns Hopkins. Other notable runners-up include:

  • Cappuccino Cosmico
  • Big Bang Blush
  • Univeige
  • Cosmic Cream

Surprisingly, Cosmic Latte didn’t actually win the vote, rather after the voting was over, the researchers decided to throw out the votes and just go with Cosmic Latte, a suggestion that received close to the lowest number of votes in the initial count. I’m not sure they understand how voting is supposed to work…

Image Source: Concerning Reality

The astronomer who came up with the name, Peter Drum, did so while sitting at Starbucks drinking a latte and reading the Washington Post. That day, the Post had published a photo of the universe and he realized, his latte had the same color! It was a breakthrough in the scientific color naming process.

So, the universe has a rather boring color expressed as #FFF8E7 in hexadecimal and its naming can be attributed to Starbucks and the Washington Post. Next time you are looking up at the night sky, just remember, that isn’t darkness you’re seeing, it’s actually “Cosmic Latte”.

Trevor is a civil engineer (B.S.) by trade and an accomplished writer with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author and the producer for the YouTube channel Concerning Reality.


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