How far out in space could Earth’s television and radio signals be detected?

The speed of light can seem fairly slow when you’re talking about communicating across galaxies.

FM broadcasts and the earliest television programs from, say, half a century of broadcasting have reached a distance of 50 light-years, or about 294 trillion miles, from Earth.

The nearest star is about 4 light-years away, and there are on the order of several thousand stars within the 50- light-year range. So the earliest episodes of I Love Lucy are washing over a new star system at the rate of about one system a day.

Any civilization on the receiving end would need a very large antenna to pick up the broadcasts, about the size of Manhattan, but scientists suggest it could be done.

But the chances that one star in a few thousand had some sort of civilization might be a big overestimate.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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