A light-year, alternatively spelled lightyear, is a unit of length used to express astronomical distances and is equivalent to about 9.46 trillion kilometers or 5.88 trillion miles. As defined by the International Astronomical Union, a light-year is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one Julian year. Because it includes the word "year", the term light-year is sometimes misinterpreted as a unit of time. The light-year is most often used when expressing distances to stars and other distances on a galactic scale, especially in non-specialist contexts and popular science publications. The unit most commonly used in professional astronomy is the parsec which derives from astrometry: it is the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one second of arc.

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