All Questions

1answer
60 views

Does the sun have a protective shield

Does the sun have a protective layer that at least diminishes its radiation. I know the earth's atmosphere protects us from harmful rays. But does the sun have a sort of shield as well that if removed ...
3answers
78 views

What do we mean by space is expanding?

I know this question had often been asked on Physics.SE as well as this site but I don't get them. What do mean when we say that space is expanding? I mean that space is no physical entity that can ...
1answer
82 views

Is the expansion accelerating or Decelerating?

According to Hubble's Law, the farther a galaxy is, the farther it is moving away. But do we take into account the fact that we are actually looking in the past? For example, there are two galaxies A ...
0answers
25 views

Coordinates of the Moon

How does one compute the right ascension and declination of the Moon at a given time (or for that matter, the altitude and azimuth)?
4answers
156 views

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens

Can the Sun be used as a gravitational lens to achieve better telescopic viewing? Can this effect be practically used to view celestial objects?
1answer
52 views

Can the Sun be used as a point source of light to achive better focus?

There's a limit to how well sunlight can be focused by a parabolic reflector or a lens because the Sun is not a point source. I wonder if the sunlight could be engineered to work as if it was (much ...
3answers
342 views

How can the 13.8 billion years old universe have a radius of 46 billion light years?

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Assume at the big-bang it starts from a small region and the maximum possible speed according Einstein is the speed of light how can the universe got a ...
2answers
69 views

Which is really larger, Big Dipper or Small Dipper, in 3D

If we take the convex hull of the 3D coordinates of the stars in Ursa Major and Ursa Minor: which hull has larger volume? This is meant semi-humorous but we might also learn some interesting points ...
2answers
86 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 ...
1answer
112 views

Connection between Earth, Moon, Theia, and astroid belt?

Are there other fragments aside from the Moon that resulted from the collision of Earth and "Theia" (as it's called in recent main-stream press stories)? And if not, why not? And what happened to ...
1answer
421 views

Average amount of annual daylight at any place on earth

If this is the wrong group please direct me to the correct one. It seems intuitively obvious that the amount of daylight per annum should be the same for any latitude on earth. For example, 12 hours ...
4answers
180 views

Why can we still see 10 billion year old galaxies?

I've never fully understood why we can still see galaxies that are 10 billion light years away. The age of the universe is calculated to be 13.9 billion years old and we live on a planet that it is ...
1answer
71 views

If Mars orbited the Earth how distant would it have to be to cause the same tides?

If it were possible to replace the Moon with Mars, how distant would it have to be to essentially create the same oceanic tides as the Moon currently does? Mars seems to be roughly 3 times the mass of ...
1answer
59 views

Orbital Elements Transformations

I'm a third year undergrad, and for the project I'm doing this summer, I need to figure out the Earth's position and velocity from the moon's point of view. From the reading I've done, it seems like ...
1answer
86 views

Are there are any photographs online that approximate what the Milky Way looks like to the unaided eye?

I love seeing all the long-exposure photographs of the Milky Way, but I'm going to Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania next month, and I'm wondering if there are any photos that approximate what ...
0answers
61 views

Is it possible to have two objects moving by sum speed of light (c) in the opposite direction? [closed]

I am puzzled by this question, because by the laws between the two object the relative gravitation force should be infinite. Anyways we can take two objects where the sum of speeds are equaling c ...
2answers
115 views

Is the Sun homogeneous?

Does the Sun have the same composition and density everywhee within it? How does it vary in other stars?
1answer
59 views

What is $v_{GSR}$

In this paper ("The Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment: First Detection of High Velocity Milky Way Bar Stars") they plot and calculate $v_{GSR}$. $GSR$ stands for Galactic Standard ...
2answers
257 views

How often do stars pass close (~1ly) to the Sun?

Interstellar exchange of massive objects is difficult across several light years. But as the stars orbit the galaxy the distances between them change. I don't find data for neighbor star distances ...
1answer
85 views

What is the optimal escape trajectory from near a black hole?

Consider a space ship that is being drawn closer to a black hole. The crew begins to notice the effects, and discovers that they are nearing the black hole. They then manage to halt their ...
1answer
14 views

Term for a momentary geometric pattern formed by astronomical objects

Few days back, the Pleiades, the Sun and the Moon were forming an almost perfect equilateral triangle. Is there a term that describes such momentary geometrical patterns? ...
1answer
79 views

Is there a ceiling for stable L4 or L5 masses?

L4 and L5, the Lagrange points 60 degrees leading and trailing an orbiting body, are famous for being stable. I will label the central mass S, orbiting mass J and the L4 mass T: It's said S/J ...
1answer
71 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 ...
0answers
17 views

Any new info about solar flares hitting the Moon added by the LADEE mission?

This article from 2011 mentions simulations about the sputtering effect caused by a solar flare hitting the Moon: "We found that when this massive cloud of plasma strikes the moon, it acts like ...
2answers
81 views

Does Tobler's First Law of Geography Apply to Star Composition?

There is a principle in Geography called Tobler's First Law of Geography which states that "Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things." Does this ...
2answers
135 views

Why are spacecraft not air-launched from airplanes

I searched on the subject, thinking it could probably be cheaper to fly the spacecraft aboard a plane and then launch it from altitude. The only thing I found was this Wikipedia page, but it only ...
1answer
318 views

How likely and severe is the threat of a gamma ray burst to earth?

In the National Geographic article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090403-gamma-ray-extinction_2.html it is suggested that a gamma ray burst likely caused a mass extinction in earth's ...
2answers
69 views

What is the difference between LMC and SMC?

Apart from the obvious difference as suggested by their names that the Large Magellanic Cloud is 'larger' than the Small Magellanic Cloud, what are the other differences between them? Do give all the ...
2answers
96 views

Why do we think that there is no two-solar-mass black hole?

We think that the mass boundary between neutron stars and stellar mass black holes is around three solar masses. The maximum mass of the neutron stars now is two solar masses and we may find a 2.6 ...
2answers
77 views

What is meant by “Radial Direction” of a galaxy?

There is a scientific journal article having a line: "In order to study the star formation scenario in the radial direction of the LMC...." What is meant by 'radial direction' of a galaxy ?
1answer
104 views

Blowing up an asteroid/comet really potentially worse?

Often on television shows and in articles I see it mentioned that it'd always be bad to blow up an asteroid or comet because then the energy would just be spread out and cause even more damage. ...
1answer
50 views

What percentage of visual stars are actually binary stars?

I know this is such a thing as a binary star where for example two stars rotate around a central point of gravity but to the naked eye are just a star. What I do not know is how common this is ...
2answers
86 views

Recommendation for introductory cosmology text

I am looking for recommendations for an introductory text (or texts) on cosmology on the advanced undergrad or beginning grad level. I am coming from primarily a physics undergrad background (doing ...
1answer
46 views

How to determine period of pulsar?

I've got a file which contains data about photons coming from some pulsar. For each photon I know: a) time, when it was registered, b) a probability that this photon came from pulsar but not from ...
1answer
50 views

Did the Babylonians believe in the Heliocentric version?

It's mentioned that the Babylonians decreed that there were exactly 360 days in a year. This statement was based upon the utilization of 360 as a standard (based on the sexagesimal system) i.e., they ...
2answers
29 views

Why the lows of the GRB 2014-04-27 in Andromeda?

The Swift gamma ray burst space telescope has measured a GRB according to the link below. But why the oscillations in the measured gamma rate? Why wasn't just an increase detected, but also as big ...
0answers
30 views

Torus of the AGN

How much do we know about the structure of the torus surrounding the galactic nuclei? Is the shape defined or still under speculations? And are there different structures for this torus possible i.e., ...
2answers
119 views

Is a wavy path possible for a shooting star?

I was camping recently (May 2014), and observed several shooting stars (very fast, short lived), a few satellites (very slow, long lived) and lots of aircraft (flashing lights) in the night sky. All ...
1answer
135 views

Was the progress of astronomy in the 1800s surprisingly slow, and if so why? [closed]

The 1800's was a century of fantastic scientific discoveries in chemistry, geology, biology, engineering and so on. Is it correct to say that astronomy did not keep up with this development? And if ...
1answer
134 views

Dark Flow: statistical limits on existence

Dark Flow has been thrown around as a term a lot lately, especially with the latest Planck results. New Scientist reported last year that it was now statistically improbable, but the paper by Atrio ...
3answers
344 views

Did we ever actually see the earth revolving around the sun? Is the geocentric model completely disproved?

Did we ever actually see the Earth revolving around the Sun? Also, is the geocentric model completely disproved or was it sidelined because the heliocentric model made things easier to understand? ...
1answer
68 views

How would a planetary defence against comets work?

Mappings of practically all potentially dangerous asteroids is well underway. But comets seem almost hopeless to protect against. How far away are approaching comets detected today? How long time ...
1answer
35 views

Calculating Angular Distance

Given the horizontal coordinates of two objects in the sky, how does one go about calculating the angular separation between them?
1answer
50 views

Triple Stars v/s Ternary Stars

Ternary (or trinary) stars are not the same as triple stars. So, what is the basic ...
5answers
613 views

Can we (theoretically) spin the black hole so strong that it will be broken apart by centrifugal force?

I can't imagine the forces involved in black holes' lives. So please, help me to find out, if it is possible or not to destroy black hole in this specific way.
2answers
645 views

Is Sun a part of a binary system?

Does our Sun have a counterpart, i.e., is it a part of a binary-system? If so, how does the other star look like and where is it?
1answer
96 views

Can Space-Time Itself Have Energy Qualities Like Momentum?

Hypothetically, if space could be moved or scaled, what would happen to everything inside? I'd like to know if an element of momentum could be transferred to objects by contorting space-time. Other ...
1answer
34 views

How can pre-main sequence stars radiate more energy than main-sequence stars?

How can a pre-main sequence star radiate more energy by gravitational contraction than a main-sequence star can by hydrogen fusion?
1answer
348 views

Would time go by infinitely fast when crossing the event horizon of a black hole?

If you were to fall into a black hole, my understanding is that from your reference point, time would speed up (looking out to the rest of the universe), approaching infinity when approaching the ...
2answers
97 views

Why do pictures of the Milky Way look like a spiral?

When I see pictures of the Milky Way they show a spiral shape. Why is this?

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