The problem:

I want to simulate a travel from Earth to the closest 15-25 stars. Which is the fastest way to accomplish this?

What i have:

I currently have the distance between Earth and the nearby stars, according to this link: http://www.space.com/18964-the-nearest-stars-to-earth-infographic.html. But from it I can't know if Alpha Centauri (4.3 light-years from Earth) is closest to Sirius (8.58 light-years from Earth) or to Wolf 359 (7.8 light-years from Earth).

What I need:

I need the distance between any two stars, at least the closest ones to Earth. Then it would be possible to run a Traveling Salesman problem, in order to visit all the nearby stars (or a subset of 15-25 of them) in the fastest time.

Where can I get this information?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A resource for direct distances between stars probably does not exist, but resources that map out our immediate neighborhood in 3D do. The you can calculate the distances. I changed your title accordingly. Remember, unlike the travelling salesman, time between stars will not be linear with distance, but proportional to the square root of the distance, if you are accelerating until the halfway point then decelerating the rest of the way. $\endgroup$
    – Eubie Drew
    Nov 2 '15 at 2:38

You can determine the 3D position for a star, $p$, by using the distance from Earth, $R$, as well as the right ascension, $\Omega$, and declination, $\delta$, within the following formula.

$p = R \begin{bmatrix} \cos \Omega \cos \delta \\ \sin \Omega \cos \delta \\ \sin \delta \\ \end{bmatrix}$

Note this will yield positions within the Earth-centered inertial reference frame.


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