How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year?

How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year
about 37,200 human years Saying we were a space shuttle that travelled five miles per second, given that the speed of light travels at 186,282 miles per second, it would take about 37,200 human years to travel one light year.

How long does it take for humans to travel 1 light-year?

Jellyfish Nebula and its surroundings (Image Credit: Patrick Gilliland) Thanks to Albert Einstein’s Theories of Relativity , we know that our universe has a speed limit. This limit is set by the speed of light, which travels a staggering 186,282 miles per second (299,792 km/sec).

If we are looking at hours, that translates to 670. 6 million mph (1. 1 billion kmh). For a little context, if you were traveling at the speed of light, you would be able to whip about the Earth 7. 5 times each second.

It’s pretty dang fast, which comes in handy for measurements. Since the universe is such a vast place, if we measured distances in miles or kilometers, we would be working with some amazingly huge numbers. As such, we measure cosmic distances according to how fast light can travel in a year.

  1. If you are wondering, there are just about 31,500,000 seconds in a year, and if you multiply this by 186,000 (the distance that light travels each second), you get 5;
  2. 9 trillion miles (9;
  3. 4 trillion km)—the distance that light travels in one year;

In short, on Earth, we talk about things in relation to feet or meters, but in the cosmos, we talk about things in relation to light. For example, the Milky Way galaxy is some 100,000 light-years across, and our closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda, is some 2.

5 million light-years away. In other words, it takes light 2. 5 million years just to travel from our galaxy to the one that is right next to us. Remember that the next time that you see a Hubble image that shows a host of galaxies dancing across the cosmos—what you are looking at is amazingly far away.

Image via European Southern Observatory/ESO The time that it takes us to travel one light-year is (unsurprisingly) considerably longer than a year. In fact, it takes between six months and a year just to reach Mars, which is only 12. 5 light-minutes away.

  • And it took New Horizons nearly a decade to make its way from Earth to Pluto, which is just around the corner, 4;
  • 6 light-hours away;
  • This duration is a bit of a problem, as it makes space exploration a painstakingly slow process;

Even if we hopped aboard the space shuttle discovery, which can travel 5 miles a second, it would take us about 37,200 years to go one light-year. Walking? That would take us some 225 million years (that’s assuming that you managed a constant speed of 20 minutes for every mile and didn’t stop for any bathroom breaks.

  1. it would be a little trying, to say the least, especially when one considers that modern humans have only been around for about 200,000 years;
  2. The worst thing? Even after all that time, we still wouldn’t be anywhere even remotely interesting;

The closest star, Proxima Centauri, is more than four light-years away..

Is it possible for humans to travel a light-year?

How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year Gianni Woods/NASA The idea of travelling at the speed of light is an attractive one for sci-fi writers. The speed of light is an incredible 299,792,458 meters per second. At that speed, you could circle Earth more than seven times in one second, and humans would finally be able to explore outside our solar system. In 1947 humans first surpassed the (much slower) speed of sound , paving the way for the commercial Concorde jet and other supersonic aircraft.

So will it ever be possible for us to travel at light speed? Based on our current understanding of physics and the limits of the natural world, the answer, sadly, is no. According to Albert Einstein ‘s theory of special relativity , summarized by the famous equation E = mc 2 , the speed of light ( c ) is something like a cosmic speed limit that cannot be surpassed.

So, light-speed travel and faster-than-light travel are physical impossibilities, especially for anything with mass , such as spacecraft and humans. Even for very tiny things, like subatomic particles, the amount of energy ( E ) needed to near the speed of light poses a significant challenge to the feasibility of almost light-speed space travel.

How long will it take to travel 1 light-year at the speed of light?

How long would it take to travel one light year at one tenth the speed of light? I have been getting ten years, though I heard light years are different than other ways of measuring distance. I just need a proffessional view on this. Question Date: 2015-02-26 Answer 1: Light years are a measurement of distance just like anything else: they correspond to the distance that light travels in one year. So if light travels one light year in one year (by definition), then something moving at one tenth of speed of light will travel one light year in ten years. But! It turns out that weird things can happen when you’re traveling at near the speed of light.

  • Say you were on a spaceship moving at one tenth the speed of light, and you’re leaving Earth for some planet one light year away;
  • I stay on Earth and watch you travel;
  • Then indeed, from my perspective, it takes you ten years to get to that planet;

But because you’re moving at near the speed of light, it turns out that I see time passing more slowly for you than for me. That is, every time my watch ticks down a minute, I see a clock on your spaceship tick down a little less than one minute. That means that from your perspective (on the spaceship), it takes you less than ten years to get there! The difference in this case is pretty small: if you do out the math, it turns out that you feel it taking you about 99.

4% of ten years. That means that you feel your trip as being about twenty days shorter than it seems to me. But this effect gets magnified as you go faster and faster. Say you go at 99. 999999% the speed of light — then from my point of view, you’re basically moving at the speed of light and it takes you one year to get to the distant planet.

But from YOUR point of view, it only takes a little over an hour! This effect is called relativistic time dilation , and it’s related to a whole bunch of other weird things that happen when things move at relativistic speeds (i. at speeds near the speed of light). Answer 2: This is a great and fascinating question! The answer might deceive you! Let’s start by a definition of light year. A light year is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one year, about 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers. One might therefore conclude that in order to travel one light year at one tenth the speed of light, this trip would take 10 years. This is correct, but is only half the answer! The second half of the answer lies in the field of special relativity.

  • The most relevant concept is called time dilation, and considers the frame of reference when we measure time;
  • A simple idea is to think of two identical twins holding identical clocks, one on Earth and one traveling in a high-speed spaceship;

The twin who travels and comes back will actually observe a shorter passage of time than the (now older) twin on Earth! This comes from the fundamental assumption that the speed of light must remain constant no matter which frame of reference is observed.

  • In real life, satellites up in orbit have clocks that run slightly slower than the ones on the surface of the Earth;
  • So back to the puzzle: An observer on Earth sees a space traveler take 10 years to travel 1 light year at 1/10 the speed of light;
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But how much time passes for this space traveler? There is an equation for calculating time dilation given the relative velocity of an object: Δ𝑡′= Δ𝑡 0 / √1− 𝑣 2 / 𝑐 2 Where Δ𝑡 0 is the traveler’s time frame (called proper time), Δ𝑡′ is Earth’s time frame, 𝑣 is the speed of the traveler (referenced by Earth), and 𝑐 is the speed of light.

For everyday velocities (such as airplane speed), 𝑣 ≪ 𝑐 so the effects of time dilation are negligible. But greater than 1/10 the speed of light, we start to see noticeable effects. If we plug the numbers into this equation, we see that the traveler actually observes a time span of Δ𝑡 0 = 9.

95 years, or 18. 3 days short of 10 years to complete the trip! In fact, if the traveler was going at 99% the speed of light (a supposed trip of just over a year), according to him, his trip would only take 52 days to complete! These concepts of time dilation and special relativity are especially interesting to ponder.

For instance, if one day we develop near-light-speed travel, we may be able to travel «forward» in time relative to Earth. A traveler could travel for a few years in her spaceship, and come back to Earth to find that everyone else has aged decades or centuries! Another possibility is that for those bold travelers that explore the deep reaches of space, they can travel great distances away without having aged much, all thanks to time dilation.

One last thing to consider, it is often confusing to figure out who is the observer in which reference. Just remember that Δ𝑡 0 is always the observer (can be person on Earth, space traveler, or anybody). From this, we know that 𝑣 must be the 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 velocity of the person or object being observed, whose time span is Δ𝑡′. You may check out this page talking about time dilation and space travel: relativity Answer 3: You are correct: it would take ten years. The speed of light has some weird properties: the closer you get to it, the slower time goes for you (but stays the same for everybody else). As a result, if you were traveling at almost the speed of light, then you could travel vast interstellar distances in mere hours as measured by the clock on your spacecraft, but for everybody else it would thousands of years.

This means that for two twins who are on Earth and traveling in space, each twin measures the other’s time to be going slower, because of the relative velocity between each other! A confusing idea indeed, but if we think about two twins observing each other from far away, each will observe the other as being physically smaller, but we know that both twins are of course the same size.

However, this effect is not significant if you are only going one tenth the speed of light. Click Here to return to the search form.


How long is 1 light-year in a year?

An image of distant galaxies captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, RELICS; Acknowledgment: D. Coe et al. For most space objects, we use light-years to describe their distance. A light-year is the distance light travels in one Earth year. One light-year is about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km). That is a 6 with 12 zeros behind it!.

Is warp drive faster than light?

A warp drive is a device that distorts the shape of the space-time continuum. A spacecraft equipped with a warp drive may travel at speeds greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude.

How long would it take to get to Pluto?

It’s a long way out to the dwarf planet Pluto. So, just how fast could we get there? Pluto, the Dwarf planet, is an incomprehensibly long distance away. Seriously, it’s currently more than 5 billion kilometers away from Earth. It challenges the imagination that anyone could ever travel that kind of distance, and yet, NASA’s New Horizons has been making the journey, and it’s going to arrive there July, 2015.

You may have just heard about this news. And I promise you, when New Horizons makes its close encounter, it’s going to be everywhere. So let me give you the advanced knowledge on just how amazing this journey is, and what it would take to cross this enormous gulf in the Solar System.

Pluto travels on a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun. At its closest point, known as «perihelion», Pluto is only 4. 4 billion kilometers out. That’s nearly 30 AU, or 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Pluto last reached this point on September 5th, 1989.

At its most distant point, known as «aphelion», Pluto reaches a distance of 7. 3 billion kilometers, or 49 AU. This will happen on August 23, 2113. I know, these numbers seem incomprehensible and lose their meaning.

So let me give you some context. Light itself takes 4. 6 hours to travel from the Earth to Pluto. If you wanted to send a signal to Pluto, it would take 4. 6 hours for your transmission to reach Pluto, and then an additional 4. 6 hours for their message to return to us.

Let’s talk spacecraft. When New Horizons blasted off from Earth, it was going 58,000 km/h. Just for comparison, astronauts in orbit are merely jaunting along at 28,000 km/h. That’s its speed going away from the Earth.

When you add up the speed of the Earth, New Horizons was moving away from the Sun at a blistering 160,000 km/h. Unfortunately, the pull of gravity from the Sun slowed New Horizons down. By the time it reached Jupiter, it was only going 68,000 km/h. It was able to steal a little velocity from Jupiter and crank its speed back up to 83,000 km/h. So how long did this journey take? Artist’s conception of the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto. Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI) New Horizons launched on January 19, 2006, and it’ll reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. Do a little math and you’ll find that it has taken 9 years, 5 months and 25 days.

When it finally reaches Pluto, it’ll be going about 50,000 km/h. The Voyager spacecraft did the distance between Earth and Pluto in about 12. 5 years, although, neither spacecraft actually flew past Pluto.

And the Pioneer spacecraft completed the journey in about 11 years. Could you get to Pluto faster? Absolutely. With a more powerful rocket, and a lighter spacecraft payload, you could definitely shave down the flight time. But there are a couple of problems.

Rockets are expensive, coincidentally bigger rockets are super expensive. The other problem is that getting to Pluto faster means that it’s harder to do any kind of science once you reach the dwarf planet.

New Horizons made the fastest journey to Pluto, but it’s also going to fly past the planet at 50,000 km/h. That’s less time to take high resolution images. And if you wanted to actually go into orbit around Pluto, you’d need more rockets to lose all that velocity.

  1. So how long does it take to get to Pluto? Roughly 9-12 years;
  2. You could probably get there faster, but then you’d get less science done, and it probably wouldn’t be worth the rush;
  3. Are you super excited about the New Horizons flyby of Pluto? Tell us all about it in the comments below;
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Will humans ever reach another galaxy?

In a new report published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers from Durham University theorize that our galaxy and its closest neighbor will run into one another in one billion to four billion years.

Will humans ever reach another star?

How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year GOODS field containing distant dwarf galaxies forming stars at an incredible rate. Credit: ESO There are two separate parts of your brain I would like to speak with today. First, I want to talk to the part that makes decisions on who to vote for, how much insurance you should put on your car and deals with how not paying taxes sends you to jail.

We’ll call this part of your brain «Kevin. » The rest of your brain can kick back, especially the parts that knows what kind of gas station you prefer, whether Lena Dunham is awesome or «the most awesome,» whether a certain sports team is the winningest, or believes that you can leave a casino with more money than you went in with.

We will call this part «Other Kevin,» in honor of Dave Willis. Okay Kevin, you’re up. I’m going to cut to the gut punch, Kevin. Between you and me, it is my displeasure to inform you that science fiction has ruined «Other Kevin. » Just like comic books have compromised their ability to judge the likelihood of someone acquiring heat vision, science fiction has messed up their sense of scale about interstellar travel.

But you already knew that. Not like «Other Kevin,» you’re the smart one. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, «space is big. » But when he said that, Douglas was really understating how mind-bogglingly big space really is.

The nearest star is four light years away. That means that light, traveling at 300,000 kilometers per second would still need FOUR YEARS to reach the nearest star. The fastest spacecraft ever launched by humans would need tens of thousands of years to make that trip.

  1. But science fiction encourages us to think it’s possible;
  2. Kirk and Spock zip from world to world with a warp drive violating the Prime Directive right in it’s smug little Roddenberrian face;
  3. Han and Chewy can make the Kessel run in only 12 parsecs, which is confusing and requires fan theories to resolve the cognitive space-distance dissonance, and Galactica, The SDF 3, and Guild Navigators all participate in the folding of space;

And science fiction knows everything that’s about to happen, right? Like cellphones. Additionally Kevin, I know what you’re thinking and I’m not going to tear into Lucas on this. It’s too easy, and my ilk do it a little too often. Plus, I’m saving it up for Abrams.

Sorry Kevin. Got a little distracted there. The point is, science fiction is doing colossal hand waving. They’re glossing over key obstacles, like the laws of physics. Stay with me here. This isn’t like jaywalking bylaws that «probably don’t apply to you at that very moment,» these are the physical laws of the universe that will deliver a complete junk-kicking if you try and pretend they’re not interested in crushing your little atmosphere requiring, century lifespan, conventional propulsion drive dreams.

So let’s say that we wanted to actually send a spacecraft to another star, whilst obeying the laws of physics. We’ll set the bar super low. We’re not talking about massive cruise ships filled with tourists seeking the delights of the super funzone planetoid, Itchy and Scrachylandia Prime. How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year David Hardy’s illustration of the Daedalus Project envisioned by the British Interplanetary Society: a spacecraft to travel to the nearest stars. Credit: D. Hardy I’m not talking about sending a crack team of power armored space marines to defend colonists from xenomorphs, or perhaps take other more thorough measures. No, I’m talking about getting an operational teeny robotic spacecraft from Earth to Alpha Centauri.

The fastest spacecraft we’ve ever launched is New Horizons. It’s currently traveling at 14 kilometres per second. It would take this peppy little probevette 100,000 years to get to the nearest star. This is mostly due to our lack of reality shattering propulsion.

Our best propellant option is an ion engine, used by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. According to much adored Ian «Handsome» O’Neill from Discovery Space, we’d be looking at 19,000 years to get to Alpha Centauri if we used an ion engine and added a gravitational assist from the Sun.

Just think of what we could do with those 81,000 years we’d be saving! I’m going to learn the dulcimer! We can start shearing back the reality curtain and throw money and resources to chase nearby speculative propulsion tech.

Things like antimatter engines, or even dropping nuclear bombs out the back of a spacecraft The best idea in the hopper is to use solar sails, like the Planetary Society’s lightsail. Use the light from the Sun as well as powerful lasers to accelerate the craft. How Long Would It Take To Travel 1 Light Year Ion Propulsion System Test for Deep Space 1. Credit: NASA/JPL Sorry, I think that was my «Other Kevin» talking. So where are we at, fo’ reals? Harold «Sonny» White, a researcher with NASA announced that they’ve been testing out a futuristic technology called an EM drive. They detected a very slight «thrust» in their equipment that might mean it could be possible to maybe push a spacecraft in space without having to expel propellent like a chemical rocket or an ion drive.

  1. But if we’re going to start down that road, we could also send microscopic lightsail spacecraft which are much easier to accelerate;
  2. Once these miniprobes reached their target, they could link up and form a communications relay, or even robotic factories;

What’s that, Kevin? Yes, you should totally be skeptical. You’re right, that last bit was a salad of weasel words. Even if this crazy drive actually works, it still needs to obey the laws of physics. You couldn’t go faster than the speed of light and you would need a remarkable source of energy to power the reactor.

Also, yes, Kevin, you’re right NASA is working on a warp drive. There’s no need to yell. NASA is also working on an actual warp drive concept known as an alcubierre drive. It would actually do what science fiction has claimed: to warp space to allow faster than light travel.

But by working on it, I mean, they’ve done a lot of fancy math. But once they get all the math done, they can just go build it right? This concept is so theoretical that physicists are still arguing whether powering an alcubierre drive would take more energy than contained within the entire Universe.

How many light years is the Milky Way?

Make the jump to light-years as we cruise through the Milky Way galaxy. Video credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. When we talk about the enormity of the cosmos, it’s easy to toss out big numbers – but far more difficult to wrap our minds around just how large, how far, and how numerous celestial bodies really are.

  1. To get a better sense, for instance, of the true distances to exoplanets – planets around other stars – we might start with the theater in which we find them, the Milky Way galaxy;
  2. What is a galaxy, anyway? Our galaxy is a gravitationally bound collection of stars, swirling in a spiral through space;
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Based on the deepest images obtained so far, it’s one of about 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe. Groups of them are bound into clusters of galaxies, and these into superclusters; the superclusters are arranged in immense sheets stretching across the universe, interspersed with dark voids and lending the whole a kind of spiderweb structure.

Our galaxy probably contains 100 to 400 billion stars, and is about 100,000 light-years across. That sounds huge, and it is, at least until we start comparing it to other galaxies. Our neighboring Andromeda galaxy, for example, is some 220,000 light-years wide.

Another galaxy, IC 1101, spans as much as 4 million light-years. Ok, fine, but what the heck is a light-year? Glad you asked. It’s one of the most commonly used celestial yardsticks, the distance light travels in one year. Light zips along through interstellar space at 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second (more than 66 trips across the entire United States, in one second).

Multiply that by all the seconds in one year, and you get 5. 8 trillion miles (9. 5 trillion kilometers). Just for reference, Earth is about eight light minutes from the Sun. A trip at light speed to the very edge of our solar system – the farthest reaches of the Oort Cloud, a collection of dormant comets way, way out there – would take about 1.

87 years. Keep going to Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighboring star, and plan on arriving in 4. 25 years at light speed. If you could travel at light speed. Which, unless you’re a photon (a particle of light), you can’t, and, by current physics, might never be possible.

  • But I digress;
  • Can we get back to those…X-planets? Exoplanets;
  • Let’s toss around some more big numbers;
  • First, how many are there? Based on observations made by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, we can confidently predict that every star you see in the sky probably hosts at least one planet;

Realistically, we’re most likely talking about multi-planet systems rather than just single planets. In our galaxy of hundreds of billions of stars, this pushes the number of planets potentially into the trillions. Confirmed exoplanet detections (made by Kepler and other telescopes, both in space and on the ground) now come to more than 3,900 – and that’s from looking at only tiny slices of our galaxy.

  1. Many of these are small, rocky worlds that might be at the right temperature for liquid water to pool on their surfaces;
  2. Where is the nearest one of these exoplanets? It’s a small, probably rocky planet orbiting Proxima Centauri – as mentioned before, the next star over;

A little more than four light-years away, or 24 trillion miles as the crow flies. If an airline offered a flight there by jet, it would take 5 million years. Not much is known about this world; its close orbit and the periodic flaring of its star lower its chances of being habitable.

Any others? I’d also point you to the TRAPPIST-1 system: seven planets, all roughly in Earth’s size range, orbiting a red dwarf star about 40 light-years away. They are very likely rocky, with four in the «habitable zone» – the orbital distance allowing potential liquid water on the surface.

And computer modeling shows some have a good chance of being watery – or icy – worlds. In the next few years, we might learn whether they have atmospheres or oceans, or even signs of habitability. Ok. Thanks. I need to go. I understand. You’re short on time. That reminds me: Did you know time slows down in the presence of gravity? I know it’s slowing down right now.

When can you leave Earth at the age of 15?

If you leave Earth at the age of 15 in a spaceship at the speed of light and spend 5 Years in space, when you get back on Earth you will be 20 years old and all your friends who were 15 when you left will be 65 years old. This phenomenon is known as ‘Time Dilation’ in Physics.

Is a light year 365 days?

This is an extremely common point of confusion! A light year is the distance light travels in one year (365 days). It often gets misused as a unit of time, likely because ‘year’ is right there in the name. It will always take light 1 year to travel a distance of 1 light year.

In a vacuum, light always travels at 300,000 kilometers per second (or 670 million miles per hour). With about 8765 hours in a year, this makes the distance light travels in a year 5. 87 x 10^12 miles (nearly 6 trillion miles), or 9.

46 x 10^12 km (9 trillion kilometers). Once you start counting in trillions, using kilometers and miles becomes really impractical, so using the distance light travels in a year is a good way to measure very large distances. As a point of comparison, it takes 8 minutes for light from the sun (93 million miles away) to reach us, and our galaxy is a little more than 100,000 light years across.

How long would it take to get to Mars?

This shows an artist’s concept animation of the Perseverance cruise stage cruising to Mars. DISTANCE TRAVELED Loading. Loading. miles / km DISTANCE REMAINING Loading. Loading. miles / km The cruise phase begins after the spacecraft separates from the rocket, soon after launch. The spacecraft departs Earth at a speed of about 24,600 mph (about 39,600 kph).

  1. The trip to Mars will take about seven months and about 300 million miles (480 million kilometers);
  2. During that journey, engineers have several opportunities to adjust the spacecraft’s flight path, to make sure its speed and direction are best for arrival at Jezero Crater on Mars;

The first tweak to the spacecraft’s flight path happens about 15 days after launch.

How far is Earth in light-years?

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A light-year is a measure of astronomical distance: Light travels through a vacuum at precisely 983,571,056 feet (299,792,458 meters) per second, making a light-year approximately 6 trillion miles (9. 7 trillion kilometers). (Image credit: ikonacolor via Getty Images) A light-year is a measurement of distance and not time (as the name might imply). A light-year is the distance a beam of light travels in a single Earth year, which equates to approximately 6 trillion miles (9.

  • 7 trillion kilometers);
  • On the scale of the universe , measuring distances in miles or kilometers is cumbersome given the exceedingly large numbers being discussed;
  • It is much simpler for astronomers to measure the distances of stars from us in the time it takes for light to travel that expanse;

For example, the nearest star to our sun , Proxima Centauri , is 4. 2 light-years away, meaning the light we see from the star takes a little over four years to reach us.

How many stars is 100 light-years?

How Many Stars Within 100 Light-Years of Earth? — There are 59,722 stars visible with a telescope within 100 light-years of our solar system. Of these, 471 shine at magnitude 6. 0 or brighter, making them visible to the naked eye under a dark sky. If you’re anything like us, that answer alone won’t have come close to satisfying your curiosity.

How far away is 1 Lightyear in miles?


1 light-year = 9460730472580800 metres (exactly)
≈ 9. 461 petametres
≈ 9. 461 trillion kilometres ( 5. 879 trillion miles )
≈ 63241. 077 astronomical units
≈ 0. 306601 parsecs


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