Typical stellar distances of visible stars in the Milky Way

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

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?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mgb_phys
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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.
 
  • #3
Chronos
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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
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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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