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Interstellar space: What is it and where does it begin?

Interstellar space is the area between the stars, but it is far from empty. It contains vast quantities of neutrinos, charged particles, atoms, molecules, dark matter and photons ranging from the highest-energy radiation to the sluggish light of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) albeit rather sparsely spread out.

According to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the average distance between stars in the Milky Way galaxy is about 5 light-years, although they are more bunched up near the center of the galaxy than in the outskirts where the sun and Earth are located. 

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