Astronomy/Distance to stars


I read this in a discussion group, is there any truth to this?

some astronomers feel that it is possible that the entire universe could fit into an area within a 200 light-year radius from the earth! Therefore, there is no guarantee that the actual distances in space are as great as we have been told, and light from the farthest point in the universe could have reached us in only a few hundred years

Hi Mike,

No, there's no truth to that. At least among the main stream astronomers. There might be a few outliers, but all scientific evidence points to a universe well beyond 200 light years.

The basic physics and light curves of distance indicators such as Cepheid variables and supernovae are fairly well understood and have been carefully calibrated, so that standard deviation errors of distances up to millions of light years is quite small. More argument comes from the very large distances. Some astronomers argue that 13.7 billion light years is not an accurate age of the universe (and therefore a boundary to the visible universe). See "A Different Approach to Cosmology" by Hoyle, Burbidge, and Narlikar, for example.

Hope that helps.

Prof. James Gort  


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James Gort


Questions on observational astronomy, optics, and astrophysics. Specializing in the evolution of stars, variable stars, supernovae, neuton stars/pulsars, black holes, quasars, and cosmology.


I was a professional astronomer (University of Texas, McDonald Observatory), lecturer at the Adler Planetarium, professor of astrophysics, and amateur astronomer for 42 years. I have made numerous telescopes, and I am currently building one of the largest private observatories in Canada.

StarDate, University of Texas, numerous Journal Publications

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