Questions regarding celestial bodies in orbit around a star.

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24
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3answers
1k 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 ...
15
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3answers
269 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?
12
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4answers
376 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?
12
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1answer
141 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
211 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
273 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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2answers
194 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 ...
11
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3answers
230 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
222 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
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2answers
677 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
101 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 ...
8
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3answers
354 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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1answer
141 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
178 views

Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?
8
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1answer
150 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
104 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? ...
7
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3answers
144 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
66 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
72 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
184 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
2answers
68 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
237 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
votes
3answers
182 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
104 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
64 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 ...
5
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0answers
69 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 ...
4
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3answers
589 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
111 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
87 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
160 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
131 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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1answer
63 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
122 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
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2answers
79 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
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1answer
60 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 ...
3
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3answers
133 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
176 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
65 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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2answers
77 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 ...
3
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1answer
74 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
55 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
78 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?
2
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1answer
83 views

What is the orientation of planetary orbits?

I'm working on a planetary motion simulator. I've been working through the equations anomaly, eccentricity, etc. The one thing I'm curious about is if all the ellipses are oriented the exact same way ...
2
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2answers
33 views

Why is sodium such a common ion for in ion tails?

I was doing research about ion tails of planetary bodies and noticed that ion tails composed of sodium were common. For example, Mercury and the Moon both have ion tails made of sodium. Why is sodium, ...
2
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1answer
49 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!
2
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1answer
113 views

If oxygen was abundant in Neptune, would there be combustion?

Since Neptune/Uranus have high percentages of methane, wouldn't it be highly likely that there will be combustion (triggered by the lightning storms or any other factor) if oxygen was abundant? And ...
2
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2answers
165 views

the most accurate system that can show the positions of planets at my birthday [closed]

My birthday : 4 December 1982 If you have such astronomical calculator on your computer please send me the result ! Alternatively if you know an online astronomical service for my purpose please ...
2
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2answers
46 views

How do kepler orbits account for planetary migration?

This article got me thinking if kepler orbits explain how a planet moves in a solar system how can a planet migrate as explained in the article. At some point don't the kepler orbits must need some ...
2
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1answer
21 views

Do planetary radio frequency change upon alignments?

If Neptune would align Uranus, would the radio frequency perceived on Earth increase? Are the radio antennas on NM capable of getting the 2 different radio frequencies feom both planets or would they ...
2
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1answer
64 views

Why do we not send diggers to Mars if we think there's underground water?

A friend of mine asked me this question: If we have a guess that there may be underground water on Mars, why do we not send rovers with diggers? I do have a few ideas, but I want alternative ...