Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Ask an Astrophysicist  |  
Ask an Astrophysicist

The Question

(Submitted March 14, 1997)

What keeps the stars from crashing into each other?

The Answer

There is a very short answer to your question, and that is that space is very large, and there is lots of room for stars, moons, and planets to move around without colliding with each other. Often, when two objects look close together on the sky, one of them is much further away than the other. Therefore, they are not really close together at all. This is true for many of the stars in the constellations that we are familiar with, and it is true for stars and planets which look close to our Moon. The nearest stars are light years away, while the Moon is about a billion times nearer. Collisions between stars are believed to happen, but they must be very infrequent. Collisions inside our solar system happen fairly often between planets and comets or meteors. Each "shooting star" is an example of such a collision, and 2 years ago a fairly large comet collided with Jupiter.

I hope this helps!

Tim Kallman
for the Ask an Astrophysicist team

Previous question
Prev
Main topic
Main
Next question
Next

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: J.D. Myers
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 13:58:39 EST