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November 2 2012

Astronomers measure cosmic 'fog,' estimate space between stars

Stars may burn out and die, but their light goes on forever. All the light ever produced by stars is still circulating through the universe, a phenomenon known as extragalactic background light or EBL. This light is a kind of cosmic "fog" that dims light from distant stars passing through it, much like the beams from a lighthouse are dimmed by real fog. Now, for the first time, astronomers have been able to measure the sum total of EBL and to calculate the spacing of stars in the cosmos. They reported Thursday in the journal Science that the average density of stars in the universe is about 1.4 per 100 billion cubic light-years. That means that the average distance between stars is about 4,150 light-years.

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