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28 votes

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

The answer to 'how can it come blazing in with enough energy to exit again' is that if it started outside the solar system it would have been unusual for it to NOT leave again, since it would have ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
13 votes

If a spacecraft travels at 10% c will it be destroyed by interstellar dust and particles?

Based on this answer: $$E \approx \frac{1}{2} m v^2 = \frac{1}{2} m c^2 \left(\frac{v}{c}\right)^2$$ The mass of a proton $m_P c^2$ is about 938 MeV, so if an innocent atom of hydrogen or bare proton ...
uhoh's user avatar
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12 votes

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

This is a very generic answer: A gravitationally bound system has a tendency to become more compact. As this happens, the gravitational potential energy becomes more negative. The energy that is lost ...
Roger Wood's user avatar
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11 votes

How serious is the problem of interstellar dust for interstellar space travel?

The density of the interstellar medium varies hugely, so the specific problem of Sol-to-Proxima-Centauri travel is different from the general problem of interstellar travel. According to WP: In cool, ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
11 votes

Could a molecular cloud be breathable?

Not a chance. Those "clouds" are a vacuum, but just a vacuum that has a few more particles than outside those "clouds". The density of those "clouds" around 1–100 particles per cm³. You can't ...
gerrit's user avatar
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7 votes

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

Assume that 'Oumuamua was gently ejected from whatever environment it formed in. Then, how is it that it entered the solar system at 26.33 km/s? This is actually expected. The velocity dispersion of ...
John Doty's user avatar
  • 3,364
6 votes

Can we use interstellar hydrogen as a fuel for interstellar travel?

The issue is that the collection mechanism tends to produce more drag than thrust. Robert Zubrin and Dana Andrews showed that this makes most Bussard Ramjet-type starship propulsion impractical. In ...
user19742's user avatar
  • 987
6 votes

How would an interstellar probe navigate the pull of gravity from stars and other large objects on the way?

Others have already clarified that the chance of encountering another massive body in interstellar space is astronomically small. However, there is still something to consider for course corrections, ...
Dan Bryant's user avatar
5 votes

Friction in interstellar space

At sufficiently high speeds, which you will need for an interstellar spacecraft, particles will just crash into the cross section and transfer all of their momentum. $$F_{drag} = v^2 \rho A$$ Where $v$...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
4 votes

How would an interstellar probe navigate the pull of gravity from stars and other large objects on the way?

The effects of gravity falls off very quickly (following the inverse square law) at large distances, so the pull of other stars would be negligible on the probe. This is even more so for planets in ...
Ezra Bailey's user avatar
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4 votes

Would the Voyager probes go backwards affected by the strong interstellar wind beyond Heliosphere?

No. The interstellar medium is almost a vacuum, just like the heliosphere. In fact, this is a lower pressure than we've ever created on Earth, at 1-1000 atoms/cm3, so 1020 times lower than atmosperic ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
4 votes

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

Look at what has happened in our solar system: 56 objects that we know of have had gravitational slingshots that boosted them to higher than system escape velocity and they are now wanderers amongst ...
Loren Pechtel's user avatar
3 votes

Using interstellar medium as propellant for ion propulsion

The problem you have with this concept is that there simply isn't enough mass out there to accelerate to make this worthwhile. The average density of hydrogen in space is 1 atom per cubic centimeter, ...
GdD's user avatar
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3 votes

Feasibility of Interstellar Probe Communication

Overview Having an interstellar probe brings up several major design issues. Two of the biggest are power and communication systems. Additional problems such as thermals, propulsion/trajectory are ...
SoRobby's user avatar
  • 741
3 votes

Feasibility of Interstellar Probe Communication

This 2012 blog post reports progress from one study into this question. In summary, using a 1MW transmitter with a 40m dish on the interstellar probe, and an array of telescopes spread over a 10km or ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
3 votes

Could unexpectedly high levels of interstellar space debris be the Great Filter?

Interstellar travel isn't the issue — stars are close together and even at 10%c the Milky Way could be traversed safely in 10M years. 10M years isn't a factor. Even if it's 100x slower at 0.1%c, ...
math's user avatar
  • 209

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