Questions regarding celestial bodies in orbit around a star.

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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 ...
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5answers
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9th planet location?

I've seen a number of news reports indicating there is likely a 9th planet in our Solar System, something with an orbital period of between 10k-20k years, that is 10 times Earth's mass. I haven't seen ...
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5answers
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Why hasn't the “9th Planet” been detected already?

In the comments to this question, there was considerable doubt placed as to the subject of if the so called "9th planet" really exists. That wasn't really the intent of the previous question, so I ask ...
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3answers
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Is it odd that our Sun has so many planets?

The internet is abuzz with the new evidence of the possible ninth planet in our Solar System. With those nine objects, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and everything else in our Solar System - the ...
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3answers
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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?
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Doesn't gravity attract objects in space until they collide?

If the formula to calculate the force of gravity between two objects is: $$F = GM_1M_2/r^2,$$ why do planets stay in orbit? Or is there another formula at work?
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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 ...
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2answers
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How bright would the sun appear from the hypothetical Planet Nine proposed by Caltech?

Theoretical Planet Nine, proposed by Caltech's Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, is said to have a 15-20 thousand year orbit. Approximately how bright would the sun appear from Planet Nine aphelion ...
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1answer
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How did Mars come to have a 24 hour 39 minute day?

Mercury rotates three times for every two revolutions around the Sun, apparently due to a gravitational resonance with the Sun.Venus takes about 225 days to rotate, and rotates in the opposite ...
14
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2answers
528 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 ...
14
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1answer
342 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 ...
14
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2answers
383 views

How long should it take for us to observationally determine if Caltech's Planet Nine is really there?

Caltech just released a report that says there is possibly a large (10 earth mass) planet in a remote orbit (10 - 20 thousand year) that explains a lot of observations of Kuiper Belt objects. How long ...
14
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3answers
933 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 ...
13
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2answers
465 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
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What wavelength to best detect the “9th planet”?

We know that the reflected sunlight will make detecting the 9th planet very difficult in the visible light. Is there another band that will be more likely to detect it? What is the surface temperature ...
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6answers
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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?
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4answers
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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 ...
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2answers
813 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 ...
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2answers
408 views

Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?
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Where might a semi proficient amateur analyst participate in meaningful astronomical efforts

I am a retired engineer that has an ongoing interest in space efforts. In my youth I did work on the Apollo program but on propulsion and vehicle thermal control: not flight dynamics. I have ...
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3answers
484 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?
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1answer
217 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 ...
10
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1answer
167 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 ...
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2answers
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Subterranean Oceans On Other Planets/Planetoids: How Do Astronomers Deduce This

Recently I have been looking into planetoids in our asteroid belt and I have found one that caught my interest, Ceres. One of the main points that was said about it was that it had a subterranean ...
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2answers
432 views

Is there a ninth planet?

After Pluto's demotion as a planet, we have currently eight planets in our solar system. But Sun's gravitational pull can be felt well beyond Pluto, so is it possible to have a ninth planet beyond ...
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1answer
241 views

How would parallax affect an object at 200-1000 AU (for example, the 9th planet)?

We know from this question that an object is hypothesized to be at between 200-1000 AU that is large enough to detect, known now as the 9th planet. It should move about 40 arcseconds per year. It ...
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3answers
311 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 ...
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1answer
107 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 ...
9
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1answer
470 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. ...
9
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1answer
439 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 ...
8
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2answers
187 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
187 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 ...
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347 views

Open problems in astronomy that an amateur (with a PhD in some other field) would have a chance of solving?

What are some open problems in astronomy that an amateur would have a chance of solving? Suppose the amateur has a PhD in some other field, owns a basic telescope, a set of filters, diffraction ...
8
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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Can there be an object with planetary discriminant between Ceres and Neptune?

The planetary discriminant is a measure of how dominant a body is within its region of the solar system. For (true) planets, it is >10000 and for dwarf planets it is <1. See this answer for more ...
7
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4answers
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Do asteroids have a gravitational field?

I know that asteroids are huge chunks of rock, orbiting a solar system. Do asteroids have a gravitational field and do they gravitationally attract each other to form planets?
7
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1answer
112 views

Why don't storms on gas giants move to the poles, like hurricanes on Earth do?

On Earth, hurricanes usually move from the equator to the poles. But if you look at a picture of Jupiter, you'd see that the Great Red Spot isn't anywhere near the poles. So the question is: why don't ...
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5answers
834 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 ...
7
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3answers
220 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 ...
7
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2answers
128 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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1answer
446 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 ...
7
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2answers
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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, ...
7
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3answers
182 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
85 views

What is the process for vetting the 4,175 candidate planets Kepler has discovered?

In the National Geographic article about NASA's announcement of new planets discovered by the Kepler spacecraft, it states that there are 4,175 candidate planets. What is the process for vetting these ...
7
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1answer
184 views

Are we sure there are no planets inside Mercury's orbit?

Currently, most explorations about new planets are pointing to area outside Neptune's orbit, but how about inside Mercury orbit? Can we say for certain there are no planets inside Mercury's orbit?
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1answer
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Pluto- Current theories regarding its geological nature?

The images of New Horizons from Pluto will take more a year to arrive from space, for the moment with have some compressed images as a preview. Nasa has advanced some information regarding the ...
6
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2answers
285 views

Why does the Solar System have no (natural) satellites of satellites?

What are the conditions for a planetary moon to have a satellite of its own? How far do the Solar System's bodies fall from the necessary threshold?
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1answer
6k 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 ...
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2answers
175 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?
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2answers
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Maximum and minimum gas giant & ice giant densities

I'm working on a star system generator for a game; I'd like its results to be plausible but they needn't be super-realistic. I've got the orbital distances and masses of each body in the system, and ...