Describing and Measuring Stars

How far are the farthest stars?

Among the four thousand or so stars in the night sky that are visible to the unaided eye, the most distant among them are several thousand light-years away. The light from more distant stars is visible, however, when many of them are associated together in a star cluster or nearby galaxy. It is possible to see, for example, the combined starlight of the Large Magellanic Cloud (about 170,000 light-years away), the 94 Small Magellanic Cloud (about 240,000 light-years away), or even the Andromeda galaxy (about 2.2 million light-years away) with unaided eyes. Using telescopes, we can see starlight from galaxies that are more than thirteen billion light-years away.


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