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What Is KPC In Astronomy? [And How It Is Used]

Have you stumbled across the acronym KPC and are not sure what it means and is used for? Well, let’s find out.

What is KPC in astronomy? KPC stands for kiloparsec. This is a measurement of distance used to track more distant astronomical objects outside of the Solar System and within and around the Milky Way. KPCs are most often used to express distances between parts of a galaxy or within groups of galaxies.

A KPC is equal to 1,000 parsecs, or 3,260 light-years.

It’s essentially a unit of length.

And it’s the preferred unit in astronomy and astrophysics to make calculations.

And it comes next after Parsec and is proceeded by Megaparsecs (MPC) for mid-distance galaxies, and Gigaparsecs (GPC) for the most distant galaxies.

Tracking Celestial Objects Via KPC

Kiloparsecs are multiples of parsecs required for the larger scales in the universe.

As such, the Milky Way is measured at about 30 KPC across and its center is about 8 KPC from the Solar System.

The nearest galaxy to the Milky Way, the Canis Major dwarf, is distanced at around 13 KPC from the center of the Milky Way.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is distanced at about 50.1 KPC away.