Questions regarding celestial bodies in orbit around a star.

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25
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3answers
2k views

How many planets are there in this solar system?

So, in school (that's a long time age) they have been teaching us there are 9 planets in our solar system. Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto But every now and then I ...
16
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3answers
343 views

Can small gas planets exist?

Most of the known gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) are huge. They are even called "gas giants". is it possible to exist a gas planet around the size of Earth? If yes, why; if no, why?
13
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4answers
479 views

Doesn't gravity attract objects in space until they collide?

If the formula to calculate the force of gravity of two objects is: $$F1 = F2 = G * (M1 * M2/r^2)$$ Why do planets stay in orbit? Or is there another formula at work?
13
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2answers
266 views

What physical features determine if a planet is a major, minor or dwarf planet?

Like many, when I was growing up, we always were taught, hence always learned that there were 9 planets. However, recently, decisions were made and all of a sudden there were 8 major planets and a ...
12
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1answer
166 views

How do/did we figure out that planets move in orbits?

I've learned that planets move in orbits around the Sun, but I really don't know how I would come to this conclusion myself. I've only seen planets in the sky a couple times (knowingly), and I am ...
12
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2answers
233 views

Is there a upper limit to the number of planets orbiting a star?

Our sun has 8 planets orbiting as well as a number of dwarf planets. Are there any calculations that hint as to whether this number is close to some theoretical maximum value or are we simply an ...
12
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3answers
334 views

Does a planet's mass or gravity affect the height of it's mountains?

According to this Wikipedia page, the top five highest mountains on Mars (and the highest on Venus) are all taller than Mount Everest (and Mauna Kea as measured from the ocean floor). Does a planet's ...
11
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3answers
288 views

Why do (most of) the planets rotate counterclockwise, i.e. the same way the Sun does?

Referring to the mechanisms explaining the solar system formation and to the initial rotation of the gaseous cloud that collapsed, I understand easily why the planets orbit the Sun the same way this ...
10
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4answers
229 views

How would I measure that I'm at a pole?

How would a person measure that he is at a planetary pole? My first inclination is to use a sextant to ensure that the Sun remains at a constant inclination. However, due to the orbit around the Sun ...
10
votes
2answers
702 views

Is it Possible for Planetary Bodies To Exist In Close Proximity Without Adverse Effects?

There are several sci-fi movies where planetary bodies are shown in the sky in order to indicate that the characters are on an alien planet. A good example is in Predators (2010): Is it actually ...
10
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1answer
109 views

Were effects of a planetary magnetic field reversal observed on other planets than Earth?

From geological records in rocks and minerals we know that the magnetic field of Earth changed its polarity multiple times in the history. See Geomagnetic reversal. Was a similar process of a ...
9
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4answers
1k views

Is Pluto still a dwarf planet?

Recent news seem to suggest that astronomers are arguing about whether Pluto should become a planet again. However, I cannot find an official source for this. Is this actually true?
8
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3answers
367 views

Why are orbits elliptical instead of circular?

Why do planets rotate around a star in a specific elliptical orbit with the star at one of it's foci? Why isn't the orbit a circle?
8
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2answers
117 views

Moon orbits crossing each other

Some planets, such as Mars, have 2 or more moons. Giants, like Jupiter of Saturn have a lot of moons! How likely the orbit of one crosses another one's orbit? Is it possible for two moons to collide? ...
8
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1answer
150 views

Changes to Earth's orbit

Any time a spacecraft comes in close proximity to a planet and if the spacecraft has the right angle then it is able to use the planet's velocity to move itself further into space. According to ...
8
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1answer
202 views

Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?
8
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1answer
194 views

How do we detect if a planet has a liquid core?

In case of Earth, we have many hints about the internal structure of our planet, from what I know, the most important of which is analyzing seismic waves. Do we have any instruments to detect if ...
7
votes
2answers
95 views

Did the Late Heavy Bombardment Period Happen Because of a Stellar System Collision?

I was thinking about the impending collision between M31 and the milky way galaxy, and I've heard that since a galaxy is mostly space most of the contents of both galaxies would be just fine. Could a ...
7
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3answers
153 views

Why are planets spherical?

I am a complete novice when it comes to astronomy, but someone asked me the above question casually. It seems as though planets are all roughly spherical, whereas other celestial bodies aren't ...
7
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1answer
71 views

Do planetary rings have geometric bounds?

Are there any bounds on where a planetary ring can form and maintain orbit relative to the planet? Do they have to be in a circular equatorial orbit? Is there a min or max altitude, say with respect ...
7
votes
1answer
79 views

What is the relevance of the Tropics and the Polar Circles? Do they Exist on other planets?

The middle line is the equator, the second and fourth line are the tropics, the first and fifth are the polar circles. What is the relevance of these bands on Earth? Do these exist on other ...
7
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1answer
261 views

What reason is there to doubt the existence of the hypothesised planet Tyche in the far distant solar system?

Please note, I do not necessarily believe in its existence, just after a scientific (hence, non-Wikipedia) reasoning to doubt the planet's existence, other than the "we would have seen it" argument. ...
6
votes
3answers
129 views

Planets and Pluto? Neptune?

If one of the rules to be a planet is that it needs to clear ALL objects from their orbit, does this also make Neptune a non-planet? Since it has thus far failed to clear Pluto (and based on an answer ...
6
votes
1answer
142 views

Are there large underground caverns on Mars?

Scientists talk about the possibility of life underground on Mars, and I assume they are talking about microscopic life that can live in small gaps in the soil or rock. But is there any evidence that ...
6
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2answers
70 views

Present distances between planet. How can I find them?

It's "commonly known" how distant are our solar system planets from Sun. But we can't easily say that about planets, which distances can differ greatly, without some observations (or simulations, ...
5
votes
1answer
429 views

Best telescope for the viewing of Nebulae, Stars and Planets

So, I am a 15 year old interested into astronomy. My father used to have a reflector telescope, but was never so serious about it that he could recommend me a good telescope. I am looking to buy a ...
5
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3answers
190 views

Is there anything special about our position in the galaxy thats necessary for life?

It's a fact that our planet's location from our parent star (among other factors) is of crucial importance to the existence of life. But can our position in the galaxy be considered a factor when ...
5
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1answer
93 views

How did scientists determine an estimate of the number of planets greater than Sedna's size to exist in the Inner Oort Cloud?

In the article, New Dwarf Planet Found at Solar System's Edge, Hints at Possible Faraway 'Planet X' (Wall, 2014) where they report on research and observations performed by astronomers that discovered ...
5
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1answer
130 views

What effects do other planets have on the solar system?

For instance, Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. Due to it's gravitational mass it can deflect meteorites and protect Earth from the Oort cloud. While these are positives, the ...
5
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1answer
93 views

Composition of planets' core

It is often possible to find a list of the materials that compose the cores and the mantle of plantes (often they are iron and/or nickel). How can these materials be determined in our Solar system? ...
4
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3answers
683 views

Which planet is also the name of an element? [closed]

Which planet is also the name of an element? I came across this question on cosmos quest and need and answer
4
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3answers
116 views

Find distance from star to star?

How do you find the distance from a star/planet/black hole to another? I know people can calculate the distance from Earth to a star, but what about from one to another?
4
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2answers
94 views

Is the discovery of Alien or Extra Terrestrial Life a function of the science of Astronomy?

Is the discovery of Alien or Extra Terrestrial Life a function of the science of Astronomy? When i read astronomy articles on the search for new Planets or discussions on Mars a lot of the topic is on ...
4
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1answer
134 views

Planetary gas giants

I've read that a gas giant, like Jupiter, doesn't have a rocky surface. But planets must start as a rocky conglomerate of flotsam. Is the interior so hot that all the material is molten and there ...
4
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2answers
269 views

When will all eight planets in our solar system align?

Ignoring expansion of the universe, entropy, decaying orbits, and interference from any bodies colliding with or otherwise interfering with their orbits, will the eight planets known planets in our ...
4
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2answers
158 views

Why don't planets and asteroids have (cometary) tails?

Comets have tails. We all know that, and a lucky few have seen the better known. So why don't the planets (e.g. Earth, Mars) have tails? Why don't asteroids don't have tails?
4
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2answers
138 views

Selecting a Telescope for Viewing Planets

I hope to observe planets like Jupiter and Saturn, and moons. I am a novice when it comes to telescopes and I know images in magazines are not taken with at least 12-inch telescope in a middle of ...
4
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1answer
72 views

Any cheap (less than 100 euro) telescope for observing Jupiter? [closed]

The moon is not challenging. I would like to observe the big planets and their rings.
4
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1answer
168 views

How small can a planet be and still have Earth-like gravity?

A planet made from denser material than Earth might have equal gravity to Earth but a smaller radius. How small can a planet be and still have Earth gravity? Ideally it should be habitable by humans, ...
4
votes
2answers
85 views

What does the term alien planet actually refer to?

This article left me wondering what do they mean by the term alien planet? Aren't all planets simply alien by default, or do they mean planets outside our solar system are alien? Do they mean there is ...
4
votes
1answer
65 views

How long would it take for a rogue planet to evaporate in the late stages of the Universe?

I've read once a popular science book, in which the author calculated how long would it take for the most massive black holes to evaporate because of Hawking radiation. He claimed that after that time ...
4
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2answers
72 views

Can a gas giant have an other gas planet as satellite?

Is it possible for a gas giant (A very big one) to have an other smaller gas planet as satellite?
4
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2answers
119 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!
3
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3answers
152 views

Inclination of planets

Why do the planets have roughly the same inclination with respect to Earth? Looking at the inclinations, which I got from http://www.astronomynotes.com/tables/tablesb.htm , we see that Mercury has ...
3
votes
2answers
204 views

Why do the planets in the Solar system stay in the same orbital plane?

An earlier question addressed why all planets formed in the same orbital plane, but how is this angle maintained? What prevents the planets from taking on a different orbital plane?
3
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2answers
72 views

How are rogue planets discovered?

Planets are usually found by observing a star and waiting for the light level to drop when a planet passes in front of it, but what about rogue planets that don't have host stars?
3
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1answer
67 views

What method is used to calculate the 'quality' of a solar/planetary image?

What sort of algorithm is used to calculate the relative quality of an image, such as is performed by PIPP, Registax, or Avistack? Such applications take planetary or solar images and prior to ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

Which planet or moon has all resources that can be used to sustain life in a controlled biosphere? [closed]

Now that we are making it to Mars, continuing onward, in an effort for humanity to civilize other planets, not just setting up residential colonies, but to mine minerals and carry on geological and ...
3
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1answer
60 views

Movement of the satellites of the planets . . .

Is the movement of the satellites (moons) of a planet coplanar, like the planets being coplanar around the local Sun?
3
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1answer
85 views

Do planetary surface temperatures change in unison in a solar system?

Are there any known correlations between the changes in planetary surface temperatures in a solar system? If so, do the farthest planets have smaller albeit correlated changes?