Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It seems to me that with ever larger and better telescopes and powerful statistical methods, humans are gleaning surprising amounts of information from observations of distant stars. I am especially impressed that we are able to not only to detect the presence of, but also look at the spectrum of, extrasolar planets.

Are there information-theoretic limits to what observational astronomy can discover (per second)? I expect there must be, because each star only sends a finite number of photons to Earth (per second), and surely each photon conveys a finite amount of information.

Is this a well-defined question, and if so, what are they---has there been any work exploring these limits?

share|cite|improve this question

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.