MadSci Network: Astronomy

Subject: How do we see stars if light is emitted in a spherical pattern?

Date: Mon Dec 5 05:24:56 2005
Posted by Octavo
Grade level: nonaligned School: No school entered.
City: Cape Town State/Province: No state entered. Country: South Africa
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 1133785496.As

Imagine a distant star emitting light. A photon starts out at the surface of 
this sun and travels ever further from it in a straight line (assuming no 
gravitational lensing) and eventually reaches my eye. Now imagine all the 
photons leaving the surface of the sun in an instant as an ever expanding 
sphere. Since a finite number of photons were emitted and the photons are 
traveling away from the sun in straight lines, they should get further away 
from each other - much like two dots on a deflated balloon will move away from 
each other as the balloon is inflated. This would mean that mean that we don't 
see many stars because the photons are so far apart from each other that they 
miss earth completely... I doubt this is actually the case, so please explain 
where my thought process has led me astray!

Re: How do we see stars if light is emitted in a spherical pattern?

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