• Question: Hi Stefan. My question is: Roughly how may years would it take for us to explore a new galaxy and which one is your which is your favourite planet?

    Asked by 282bdta27 to Stefan on 19 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: Stefan Lines

      Stefan Lines answered on 19 Nov 2014:

      Hey. One of the craziest things about the universe is just how far apart galaxies are. Our closest spiral Galaxy (similar to our own) is Andromeda, which you may have heard of. Despite being able to see it faintly with a simple telescope, it is a staggering 2.5 Million Light Years away from us. That means that even if light speed was possible, it would take over 2 Million years to reach. That is mad! Especially when you think that there are expected to be over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. The probe Voyager 1 which is the farthest man made object away from us is travelling at traditional speeds, 20,000 times slower than the speed of light. That means it would takes 20,000 times longer ( 2 Mill * 20,000 = 40 billion years, or 3 times the age of the universe currently). If we want to be really picky, the closest galaxy (which is disputed as to whether it is) is Canis Major Dwarf, which is 25,000 light years away – 100 times closer than Andromeda. Based on that scaling, at regular shuttle speeds we’re taking 400 million years to travel to the nearest (dwarf) galaxy.

      My favourite planet is probably Beta Pictoris B because it spins so fast at 100,000km/h – giving it a day in 8 hours. Although I like Kepler-34b because it is a circumbinary planet, like I study, and so has 2 sunsets.