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Typical stellar distances of visible stars in the Milky Way

  1. Jan 15, 2008 #1
    How far away is the average star in the night sky?

    I mean, can we see stars that are on the other side of the galaxy?

    Perhaps most of the visible stars are maybe just a few dozen light years away?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2008 #2


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    Most are within about 100light years ( the milky way is 100,000 light years accross)
    The sample of visible stars is obviously biased by very bright stars. Betelgeuse is a particulalrly bright red giant, it is one of the brightest stars in the sky but is at a distance of 550 lyr, Polaris is also a very bright star at around 300lyr,
    The nearest star is Alpha Centauri is only 4lyr and is only about the same brightness as the sun but appears as a bright star.
  4. Jan 16, 2008 #3


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    Virtually all individual stars visible to the naked eye are within 1000 light years of earth. We can, however, see collections of stars [like the Andromeda galaxy] at much greater distances.
  5. Jan 16, 2008 #4
  6. Jan 16, 2008 #5
    Assuming we can see stars down to a limiting brightness of 6th magnitude, in the absence of interstellar dust which blocks out the light, an F-type supergiant would be visible out to about 4000 parsecs - over 10,000 light years. An "average" sun-like star is only visible to about 20 light years away though!
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