• Question: If it takes a couple of billion years for light from stars that are really far away to reach Earth, would it be possible that there are so much more stars, but we just cannot see them because their light hasn't reached us?

    Asked by tosty55 to Aggelos, Andrew, Eileen, Naomi, Shane on 16 Nov 2012.
    • Photo: Andrew Jackson

      Andrew Jackson answered on 16 Nov 2012:

      yes! Stars are still being born in places like the Orion Nebula, a messy and massive collection of gases that can fall in on itself under its own gravity and eventually ignite the nuclear reactions that make stars burn bright. So, some of the light from places like this might not have reached us yet.

      Its also possible that some of the stars we can see in the night sky have already died, and their light is still making its way through space to us. Quite poetic and sad really!

      I have always thought (mostly as a kid, so bear with my innocence here), that if you could teleport yourself far enough away from earth (instantly) and had a powerful enough telescope that you could still see the dinosaurs walking on the earth. My reasoning being that the light from 60 million years ago would only be reaching the place i teleported to. Of course, you would never get a telescope this powerful, and the light probably would even reach that far, never mind there being no teleporters.. but i liked to dream and think as a kid (i still do really).

    • Photo: Eileen Diskin

      Eileen Diskin answered on 18 Nov 2012:

      You’re exactly right! If you look up into the night sky, the stars you see are actually how they looked a LONG time ago, since it takes so long for their light to actually travel to us…which I think is really weird to think about, its kind of like looking at the history of the sky!