Questions involving the physics of the universe, especially the nature of astronomical objects, energy fields, and/or regions, rather than their positions or motions in space.

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Gravitational pull needed to keep a gas in atmosphere

How can you determine the gravitational force needed to keep a particular gas in the atmosphere of a planet (for example, carbon dioxide (CO2))? I came across the following formula ...
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40 views

Angular momentum in planetary disk formation

Reading about the formation of planetary disks, one of the major problems, it seems like, is the evacuation of angular momentum. Aparently planets can't form with the amount o angular momentum the ...
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7 views

begining research in astronomy/astrophysics - how to go about [migrated]

I am a (beginner) researcher in the area of Turbulence, Applied Mathematics and Hydrology. I really want (for personal reasons) to start doing some research in the field of Astrophysics/Astronomy but ...
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1answer
192 views

What happens to a white dwarf past the Chandrasekhar limit?

This is a multiple choice question I had trouble with on an exam. Will a white dwarf that has had too much mass piled on top of it a) undergo a thermonuclear flash and explode in a type IA supernova ...
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2answers
95 views

How would Jupiter's brightness relative to our sun seem to a remote observer (observing from a remote star)

Given that Jupiter is 5 AU from our sun and a remote observer viewing our solar system from some other part of our galaxy looks at it. We assume that Jupiter's radius is $11 \times 6700$ km. What ...
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1answer
30 views

What uncertainty does an error bar signify in astronomy?

When an astronomer talks about her/his topic and shows an X/Y-plot with error bars. What should one assume that those error bars represent? 1 standard deviation? Or 2? Or some specific significance ...
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51 views

Can an astronaut ever reach a Black Hole theoretically? [duplicate]

Ok, bear with me, while I try to explain the question I have. I read that time slows as we approach a black hole. So, suppose,theoretically, as astronaut is approaching a Black Hole. And he gets ...
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1answer
64 views

Collision of two Earths

Assume that two Earth-like planets orbited the same star, with elliptic orbits. Eventually, something occurs that caused the two planets to collide. What would be the outcome of such a catastrophe? ...
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1answer
24 views

Exploiting symmetry in the axisymmetric Jeans equations

I'm solving the axisymmetric Jeans equations to determine the initial conditions for an exponential disk inside an NFW halo. The density profiles of the two components are \begin{equation} ...
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1answer
59 views

Where can I learn these Astrophysical techniques? [Read below]

Whenever I read any Astro papers in http://arxiv.org/ they usually talk about Data fitting or modelling or sentences like 'we fitted the spectral region by analytic functions i.e. by multi-component ...
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1answer
83 views

Is it accurate to say that we have a gravitational attraction towards all objects in the known universe?

Its probably small, but is there a theoretical gravitational attraction between all objects in the universe? Light can move pretty far, so does that mean gravity can as well, and is the gravity ...
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673 views

What causes the dimensions of a star increase when its hydrogen fuel is exhausted?

What causes the dimensions of a star increase when its hydrogen fuel is exhausted? For example, the Sun is expected to increase its radius 250 times. What causes this if its temperature is expected to ...
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2answers
64 views

Is there a lower limit for the altitude of orbiting objects?

As I understand it, one object can orbit another at a variety of altitudes, and the stability of the orbit is determined by (among other things) the speed of the orbiting object. Go too slowly and ...
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50 views

Apocalypse on earth

What would it feel like on Earth if the Earth accelerated due to sudden changes in the solar system like ejection of another planet? Would there be giant tidal waves and other cataclysmic events?
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93 views

What is the size of the universe.is it infinite? [duplicate]

What is the exact size of the universe.is it infinite?
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1answer
53 views

Using Tully Fisher to measure Distance Problem

Can anyone explain by looking at the solution in the pic, how did the cos (i) came about? I guess they are getting this from the major-minor axis info in the question, but I am not sure about the ...
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1answer
136 views

What is the Fundamental plane for Elliptical Galaxies?

An alternate explanation rather than from wikipedia is preferable.
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2answers
107 views

Assuming a sufficient amount of mass above the density threshold, does the actual concentration of the mass matter in creating a black hole?

I've heard that the actual density of a black hole (within the volume of the event horizon) is pretty low - does that mean that any sufficiently large volume of mass over that density is also a black ...
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1answer
70 views

If the speed at which the universe contracts in reverse time decreases over time, then how did scientists arrive at a date for “The Big Bang”?

If the speed at which the universe expands is constantly increasing (just like a derivative), then the opposite must also be true: the speed at which the universe contracts in reverse time is ...
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2answers
284 views

Is it possible that a ultra-large portion of the space we live in is already inside a black hole? How could we refute this?

Trying to wrap my head around some concepts involving the very large gravitational fields of black holes, and what the gravitational gradients look like on a cosmic scale. I'm familiar with the Great ...
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2answers
163 views

Weight of a celestial body

How do astronomers find out the correct weight of a planet tough there isn't any direct means to weigh them?What technique do they use?Just curious!
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2answers
402 views

Is a white dwarf hotter than a Red Giant?

From what I've read, white stars are hotter than red ones. But a white dwarf would have just heavy elements to fuse, so shouldn't it be less bright?
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2answers
247 views

Observational Evidence for the Existence of Black Holes

What is the direct observational evidence that black holes exist? I have read that black holes have been detected through X-ray emission. What is some other observational evidence for black holes?
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3answers
523 views

How does a gravity slingshot actually work?

From what I know of elliptical orbits, an object speeds up near the periapsis and slows down at the apoapsis, much like we learned in high school physics how a sphere would roll down and back up a ...
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1answer
70 views

Finding the radius of an eccentric orbit at any point

Knowing the apoapsis, periapsis and therefore period of an orbit, how can I find the radius of an object in an orbit at a given angle or time, whichever is needed. For example, if I have an object m ...
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2answers
103 views

How does the evolution of a solar system not break the second law of thermodynamics?

Please forgive: I am a layman when it comes to physics and cosmology, and have tried finding an answer to this that I can understand, with no luck. As I understand it, the solar system evolved from a ...
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2answers
294 views

How are the speed, distance and time of India's MOM and USA's Maven Mars missions calculated?

How do the scientists calculate the correct time to launch the Mars mission so that the satellite travel time is less? How they are synchronizing the speed of satellite with respect to earth and mars ...
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2answers
511 views

Our universe the surface of a 4-dimensional sphere?

The cosmic microwave background that we observe uniformly around us is usually explained by assuming that our universe is the surface of a four dimensional sphere. That way the uniformity makes sense ...
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1answer
106 views

Is there another explanation, apart from the doppler effect, for the redshift observed in distant galaxies?

On episode 10 of the original Cosmos TV series, Carl Sagan mentions that some scientist don't agree that the redshift observed in distant galaxies is evidence of the big bang, stating that probably ...
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3answers
140 views

Earth's gravitational pull on ISS

How do they make International space station to orbit the earth beyond earth's gravity acting on it? We all know that ISS is rotating at an altitude of just 350km away.How could ISS escape earth's ...
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1answer
54 views

Sattelite's orbit

What is the maximum distance for a satellite to orbit the earth? Does earth's gravity has the impact on satellite? I do know that earth's gravity will never be zero and it's gravity is inversely ...
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3answers
61 views

State of the stars

This question may sound silly but I'm really not pretty sure whether the stars are rotating or stationary.If they are not rotating what makes them to be stable?
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3answers
135 views

How fast is the universe expanding?

I've hear several theories stating that the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, others claim that the universe expands faster the further away you measure it. Which of this is ...
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1answer
64 views

How can the life time of a multiple star system, such as for example the trinary system PSR J0337+1715 be derived?

As for example explained at the beginning of this blog post, the trinary system consists of a millisecond pulsar ($1.438$ times the mass of the sun) orbited by two white dwarfs. One of the white ...
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1answer
107 views

Timescale of ignition of a protostar?

What is the timescale of start of nuclear fusion as T Tauri type star transforms into a Main Sequence star? Wikipedia article on T Tauri type stars mentions: Their central temperatures are too ...
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2answers
2k views

How does neutron star collapse into black hole?

We know the spectacular explosions of supernovae, that when heavy enough, form black holes. The explosive emission of both electromagnetic radiation and massive amounts of matter is clearly observable ...