Is there a limit to how far we can see?

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Offline yamo

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Is there a limit to how far we can see?
« on: 07/01/2015 06:01:08 »
Is there a limit to how far from its source light from a star can be seen?  I understand that eventually universal expansion will someday exceed c but is there any other limit?
Science is what you want it to be.
                   --Dr. Leo Spaceman--

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Offline PmbPhy

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Re: Is there a limit to how far we can see?
« Reply #1 on: 07/01/2015 07:13:05 »
Quote from: yamo
Is there a limit to how far from its source light from a star can be seen?  I understand that eventually universal expansion will someday exceed c but is there any other limit?
Yes. I'm sure there is. I can't imagine that we can see a star which likes biilions of light years away. Only galaxies can be seen that far away.

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Is there a limit to how far we can see?
« Reply #2 on: 07/01/2015 09:05:05 »
The perceived intensity of an omnidirectional light source decreases by the inverse of the square of the distance. 

So, say a star is perceived with X intensity at 1 LY away, then:
DistanceIntensity
1 LYX
2 LY(1/4)X
10 LY(1/100)X
1,000 LY(1/Million)X
100,000 LY (size of Milky Way)(1/10 Billion)X
10 Billion (1010) LY (about radius of visible universe)(1/1020)X

Anyway, a star 10 Billion light years away gets mighty dim.  In fact, I'm not sure if individual stars can be discerned by the naked eye outside of our own Milky Way, although the galaxy Andromeda can be seen.

However, one of the most distant objects ever observed was actually the very bright supernova from a single star.

Time and Distance is a little funky in our ever moving Universe, but if we accept that the Big Bang happened about 13.8 billion years ago, that also puts an upper limit on the distance of visible objects, 13.8 billion LY.