Being off school gives me a little more time to read around blogs on the internerd.  One very interesting blog that I have recently begun to subscribe to is ‘starts with a bang‘ .  It is one of many very fascinating blogs from scienceblogs.com.

One article that made my jaw drop a little is about globular clusters and the stars inside them.  To get a sense of the scale of them you have to think about our local star (the sun) and how far away the next nearest star is (proxima centauri).

This crude little graphic of mine shows that if you imagine a bubble of 4 light years radius then our closest neighbour is just outside this bubble.  A light year is a measure of distance where a light year is the distance that light travels in one year.  For perspective, the sun is 8 light minutes away from earth.   So it’s not that close and inbetween is mostly empty.  There may be a few brown dwarf stars in this bubble that have not been detected yet but that’s another story.

A globular cluster is a different matter:

Omega Centauri is a globular cluster of stars 15,800 light-years away from us.  It is very densely packed with stars.  A zoomed in picture shows this better:

Just how densely packed with stars is the bit that made my jaw drop.  Back to the crude diagram:

If, instead of a four light year bubble, we imagine a one light year bubble.  Then if we imagine that the sun is in this kind of globular cluster, how many stars would be in our one light year bubble?

This many:

Imagine the night sky if this were the case!

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