When we consider the distance for traveling a light year it is a big distance and a big number, and before we even go there, we have to understand that the light year is not time and it is a distance.

Actually, the distance traveled will depend upon how you are covering the distance, and at Lightspeed, it would take almost a year. Another point I believe is that humans will have a lot of issues while even traveling. Because it will feel like there is a relentless movement in space when we are considering the space environment and the relativity theory of Einstein.

## Do You Have Any Idea About How Long is a Light Year?

A light year tells you exactly the distance traveled by light in one year when it is traveling in space following a straight line path. If you’re like, “Wouldn’t I take a 1000 years to go a 1000 light-years?” you’re like me. And the answer is no. Even if you ask, “Why can’t I just tell this in kilometers of miles?”. And I will tell you why.

Kilometers or miles can be used to measure a system of units because the distances are so large.

When we consider the movement in space it is assumed that there are no effective gravitational fields or strong magnetic fields existing between these heavenly bodies. To get a more numerical approach, we can say that the speed of light is 299792458 m/s.

According to modern physics, it is believed that it is far from possible to have speeds greater than the speed of light. Although there are theories and assumptions supporting the Alcubierre drive which is traveling with a speed faster than the speed of light. There is no robust explanation that is to be followed for the same, and hence this remains unverified.

So, now when we consider a car, like our regular cars, then consider supercars and then spaceships we will have different variations in time, with a normal car it would take around 4 billion years, and with the help of super powerful engines in spaceships this can be covered in 20,000 – 40,000 years.

## How Long Would it Take for 1 Light Year to Travel at the Speed of Light?

The one thing that you need to understand here is that time does not have a speed that changes, and when the speed becomes as large as the speed of light, the changes are tremendous.

To have a clear view of this, let us take an example: if a spacecraft is traveling at the speed of light, it will take one human year to travel one light year. So, when the speed becomes half or double the time taken by the spacecraft to cover that distance will get half or doubled. Based on the principle that speed is equal to the ratio of distance to time, speed is directly proportional to distance and inversely proportional to time.

Now, when we’re traveling at the speed of light, it will take us approximately one-eighth of a second to take a round of the earth, implying almost 7-8 rounds around the earth in 8 seconds. So, now that you have the idea of fleeting time and that too rapidly you will probably understand why it feels like humans in the aircraft will not age.

Contrasting it with our current speed, it takes us almost three days to reach the moon. But, when the speeds reverse, it will hardly take us 2 seconds to cover the same distance.

The Icy Whiz team talked to Kurtis Forster, a Sales Representative at Nu-Vista Premiere Realty, about the major challenges in achieving interstellar travel within a human lifetime. Here is what he said:

“The most significant challenges in achieving interstellar travel within a human lifetime revolve around propulsion technology and the vast distances involved.

Developing propulsion systems capable of reaching relativistic speeds without consuming unsustainable amounts of fuel remains a formidable obstacle.

Mitigating the risks associated with prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity poses significant challenges to human health during extended space missions.

Breakthroughs in propulsion technology, such as the development of viable warp drives or advanced forms of propulsion utilizing antimatter or nuclear fusion, could potentially enable faster-than-light travel.

These breakthroughs would revolutionize our ability to traverse interstellar distances within feasible timeframes.

Advancements in life support systems and medical technology could mitigate the adverse effects of long-duration space travel, ensuring the safety and well-being of astronauts during interstellar journeys.

Collaborative efforts between governments, private industry, and academic institutions are essential to overcoming these challenges and realizing the dream of interstellar exploration.”

## Will Light-Speed Space Travel Ever be Possible?

According to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, the speed of light is a cosmic limit that cannot be surpassed; if it involves a mass of humans or space vehicles, it is nearly impossible.

Considering the technology at hand, it seems impossible because the probe that we currently support has only reached 2 parts of a thousand in 40 years. So, only 0.2% of a light year is traversed in 40 years.

After extrapolating the same mathematics using the same probe, we will take a very long time to cover this distance, long before the probe becomes non-functional for many reasons.

Another theory that supports quick and possible travel to this distance is Project Orion, which dates back to the 1960s. According to this, if you build an enormous spacecraft and power it up by using atomic bomb droppings from the back and simultaneously protect the crew upfront by using large metal plates and shock absorbers, you can achieve 10% of the speed of light.

Now, another problem would be that such travel would again require close to 50-70 years, but once the vehicle reaches the destination, it will not have atom bombs left to give in the initial acceleration.

Kwame McGill, the Founder and Owner of Chimney And Stone Masonry LLC, discussed the challenges in achieving interstellar travel within a human lifetime. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“The distance across interstellar space between any two stars is the single most imposing difficulty. Even traveling to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, a bit over four light-years away, demands speeds far beyond our current technology.

For that, chemical rockets and even other forms of propulsion are nowhere near what we’d need for such a journey.

We need breakthroughs to accelerate spacecraft propulsion with something as good as nuclear fusion or antimatter engines that could drive spacecraft at significant fractions of the speed of light.

Another major challenge is ensuring sustainability and the protection of human life over long-duration space flights.

Advanced life support systems may be able to function reliably during missions, possibly lasting decades, and such systems are needed to provide dependable sources of food, water, and air.

High cosmic radiation and other space hazards also require protection. Materials and current shielding technologies need to be significantly improved to protect astronauts from prolonged space radiation.

One of the breakthroughs that might revolutionize interstellar travel would be a concept in theoretical physics: a warp drive.

A warp drive would bend or ‘warp’ space-time itself, so a spaceship, in principle, would be able to travel faster than light by contracting the distance between two points.

While this idea is purely speculative at the moment, let alone the enormous scientific and engineering difficulties that lie before it, this seems to present the vision of a future where such travel may be possible.”

## It’s Quite Closer to Mathematics

A light year is approximately 63241.1 astronomical units (AU). When light travels from the sun to reach us at 1 AU, it takes 500 seconds. Considering an aircraft traveling at 1000 mph, it will take us approximately 10.6 years to get.

So, this implies that it will take close to 2200 years to travel 1 AU.

If the speed is further increased to a few lakh kilometers per hour, we will then take 49 days to travel 1 AU and, similarly, 8500 years to travel a light year.

Light is traveling at 186,000 miles per second, it is fast beyond imagination but the bodies that it is trying to reach are also equally far.

Sun is the closest star to us, now since we are very far away from the sun it takes a lot of time for light to travel from the sun and reach us but if we equate it to light years then those 93 million miles just take 8.3 minutes to reach us.

This is just another example explaining the enormity of the universe and the extremity of the speed of light.

My scientist friend Rob told me this.

Now, to travel 1000, you can multiply this number by 1000; I think I’ll leave the mathematics to you now!

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Pragya

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The concept of traveling 1000 light years involves vast distances and challenges. A light year represents the distance light travels in a year. In space, without significant gravitational or magnetic fields, the speed of light is approximately 299,792,458 m/s. While theoretical concepts like the Alcubierre drive propose faster-than-light travel, practical challenges persist.

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