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Question: How long would it take for a bird to fly around the galexy?

Asked by fang17 to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by stary.

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  • Photo: Drew RaeDrew Rae answered on 21 Jun 2011:

    Hi Fang. That’s an interesting question. A bird couldn’t actually get high enough or fast enough to fly away from the earth. Let’s say we launched a satellite at the speed of the fastest bird though. That’s about 100 miles per hour. To get from earth to Mars when they are closest is around 50 million miles. So it is going to take 2 million hours (230 years) for our bird speed satellite to get to Mars. That’s a tiny bit of the way out of our solar system.

    Our galaxy is 9 with 17 zeros after it kilometres big. That’s a long way. The galaxy will probably be gone by the time our satellite gets to the other side.

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  • Photo: Amy MacQueenAmy MacQueen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

    I think it would take a long time going by Drew’s answer – i.e. it would never do it. You also have to control for the speed birds fly at…some are faster than others. So, aside from the fact its not possible, what bird are you thinking of?

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  • Photo: Julia GriffenJulia Griffen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

    I’ll go with Drew on this one…

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  • Photo: Sara Imari WalkerSara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

    Hi Fang17 and stary! Drew’s numbers look correct! To give you an idea of how impractical it would be for a bird or even our fastest spaceship to fly across the galaxy (even if the bird or us could survive the trip), our galaxy is 100,000 light years across (that’s the 900000000000000000 miles across Drew cited). That means it takes light (the FASTEST thing in the universe!) 100,000 years to traverse our galaxy. The fatest thing in the universe, way faster than anything we could build, still takes 100,000 years to get across our galaxy!!!!

    In fact, you know how it take Earth a year to go around the Sun and that our solar system is pretty big? Well compare that to the 250 million Earth years it takes our Sun to make one orbit around the galatic center! That is HUGE!! I don’t think a bird would make the trip, not in its lifetime or its children’s or it’s children’s children’s etc …..

    Cool thought experiment!!

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